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Two area programs honored for work with people with disabilities

WILLMAR — West Central Industries of Willmar and Chippewa Enterprises in Montevideo each received a Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation for their work serving individuals with disabilities.

WCI received the award for its music program. According to a news release announcing the award, WCI has formed a choir of 16 singers who have performed a number of times after months of vocal training. From musical knowledge and teaching expertise of the nonprofit's staff, the individuals have learned the fundamentals of percussion, acoustic and bass guitar, ukulele, piano and vocal performance.

WCI's choir has performed at long-term care facilities and at an area hospital. The performances have opened up additional opportunities to interact with members of the community.

Chippewa Enterprises received the award for its Worksite Wellness Garden and its connection with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership.

Raised planting beds were built and Montevideo High School got involved. According to the award announcement, the group faced many challenges, and learned about the best plants to grow together, germination, weather, construction and basic garden needs.

"Having a good life involves connecting with the people around us and being involved in our community and activities outside of work," said Mike Burke, president of the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation. "Nonprofit service providers are innovators when it comes to enriching the lives of the individuals with disabilities and they deserve more credit for their work."

Burke said it's important for service providers to honor the choices of people with disabilities, who often want to participate in constructive activities and community interactions along with their friends.

The he Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation represents more than 100 such day programs across the state.