Holiday Resources 2023

The holidays can be a hard time for families and people with disabilities.

INDEX has an updated Holiday Resources 2023 fact sheet. You can find holiday help in Massachusetts. Looking for food and food pantries? Want a place to go for a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with others? Thinking about how you can get toys and gifts for children?

Resources are for:

* Food/Meals

* Toys & Gifts

* Financial Help

* Holiday Programs

Holiday Resources 2023

Summer Recreation

Summer is here! Time to enjoy the warmer weather and have fun.

Here are some programs and places to enjoy this summer.

Accessible Cape Cod 

Wheelchair accessible beaches on Cape Cod.

Accessible Pools & Spray Decks 

Outdoor swimming pool lifts are available at all of the State Parks and Recreation Department’s 20 swimming pools. The pools are free. Contact pool directly for information about other site factors affecting accessibility.

Access Recreation New England

Connecting people with disabilities to accessible recreation opportunities

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Offers nine miles of walking trails guiding through a variety of field, woodland, and wetland habitats. A quarter-mile, handicap accessible trail and boardwalk along the bank of Indian Brook in Natick. Universally accessible facilities: Nature Center, Restrooms, All Persons Trail.

Mass Dept of Conservation & Recreational Universal Access Program

Provides outdoor recreation opportunities in Massachusetts State Parks for visitors of all abilities. Accessibility to Massachusetts State Parks is achieved through site improvements, specialized adaptive recreation equipment, and accessible recreation programs.

Piers Park Adaptive Sailing

Provides programs for disabled youth and adults aboard 23-foot sonar sailboats on a no charge basis. Serves those with amputations, paralysis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism, hearing impaired, sight impaired, intellectual disabilities and other disabilities. Successfully integrates youth with disabilities into summer youth sailing programs.

Smile Mass Local Beach Wheelchair Locations

Smile Mass has both fresh and saltwater beach wheelchairs available across the state. Wheelchair users can access beaches and enjoy the water.

Spaulding Adaptive Sports

Offers adaptive sports and recreation activities in Boston, Cape Cod and the North Shore.  Includes wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing, waterskiing or windsurfing.

Click on the links for more info. You can go to our Recreation Opportunities for People with Disabilities fact sheet to find more choices for people of all ages, abilities and skill levels.


INDEX Summer Camp Resources 2023

We have updated Summer Camp resources for children with disabilities. Camp listings are for day and residential camps. Camps are located in Massachusetts, New England, and beyond. Check our listings for specific camp information and openings. Cost varies by type of camp and programs offered.

Camps offer a big range of programs and activities. Camps may have available openings and wait lists. Each camp has its own eligibility requirements. If you have questions, please contact each camp for details.

INDEX Summer Camp Resources 2023

Renew your MassHealth Coverage

INDEX wants to remind people that MassHealth renewal time is here. Renewal is important for people with disabilities in Massachusetts who have MassHealth.

DDS supported individuals with MassHealth may need extra help with their renewals.

MassHealth is here to help renew your MassHealth coverage!

Learn about the MassHealth renewal process and what it means for you.

Did you or the head of your household recently receive a notice from MassHealth saying that you need to renew your coverage, or that you have been automatically renewed?

That’s because every year, MassHealth reviews members to make sure they still qualify for coverage through MassHealth, the Health Safety Net, or Children’s Medical Security Plan.

If you received a notice saying you must renew, please respond by the due date listed in your renewal notice or your benefits might decrease or end.

Please be sure to contact MassHealth with any updates to your

  • address, phone number, email, income, or
  • other members in your household within 10 days of the change.

You can renew:

  • Online
  • By phone
  • By mail
  • By fax
  • In person

How to renew your MassHealth coverage: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/renew-your-masshealth-coverage

Free Tax Help and Income Tax Filing Resources 2023

Tax season is here. It’s time to file state and federal income taxes. Taxes are due by 4/18/23.

We have resources for people with disabilities, seniors, immigrants, and low income families. Please check each site for eligibility requirements. Income tax help is available in all areas of the state.

Many people need help with their taxes. You can get help and answers to your questions.

Free Tax Help and Income Tax Filing Fact sheet

Christmas of Caring at First Congregational Church (FCC) Aims to Help Ease Medical Debt

Rev. Josh Fitterling and FCC Worcester will be partner with the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt to forgive medical debts for individuals in Worcester County and across Massachusetts.

FCC Worcester is currently taking donations for RIP Medical Debt and planning the Christmas of Caring fundraiser for Dec. 11, which will include a Christmas carol singalong and a chance auction. According to Fitterling, the church will also donate collection money from its Christmas Eve service to RIP Medical Debt this year.

According to Daniel Lempert, vice president of communications at RIP Medical Debt, the organization is a New York-based nonprofit that uses donations to buy and then forgive medical debt across the United States. It was founded in 2014 by two former debt collections executives who chose to use their knowledge of the industry to forgive, rather than collect, individuals’ debts.

Read full Worcester Telegram article.

Supporting Siblings of Autistic Children with Aggressive Behaviors

Emily Rubin, Director of the UMass Chan Medical School Shriver Center’s Sibling Support Program, shared information about siblings experiencing aggression from autistic brothers and sisters.   In a Q&A session with Autism Speaks, Emily discussed aggression and other severe behaviors.

The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative is a community-based program offered by UMass Chan Medical School. 

Families interested in the Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative can contact Emily directly at emily.rubin@umassmed.edu. They will receive information about the program, a permission form and Zoom link to log in. 

Read Emily Rubin’s Autism Speaks Q&A Session

Seen and Heard: IDD Community

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The Seen and Heard: IDD Community is Partnership Project of Strategic Education Solutions and INDEX program of the Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

The Seen and Heard: IDD Community is making videos about sexual assault prevention and recovery. Our videos are made by and for people with IDD who are survivors or just want to learn about staying safe. James Meadours, a self-advocate and our team co-leader, shares his experiences and thoughts. James speaks out for others with IDD who are survivors or just want to learn about staying safe. Sexual assault prevention and recovery are important.

You can watch the videos on Seen and Heard: IDD Community YouTube channel. Please be sure to subscribe and like these videos.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Linkages Program

The Department of Public Health’s Linkages Program evaluates, refers and links persons 18 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities to preventative health care and health promotion programs in their community.

Based off participants responses to a series of surveys and questionnaires the Linkages Program zeros in on common trends and remarks in order to coordinate an individualized plan of action for each participant. The Linkages Coordinator meets with potential participants either virtually, over the phone, or in-person to see what their health needs are and then works with the participant to link them with providers or other services.

The Linkage Program looks to remove barriers and hardships to healthcare access, health promotion activities, and mental health care needs. The program encourages participants to be confident, self-reliant, and knowledgeable about their rights and resources that are available to them.

As the Linkage Coordinator, Phelicha is committed to creating an environment that is inclusive, supportive and relevant. She aims to provide immediate one on one consultations that collaboratively prioritizes participants needs and goals. Thus, ensuring that each person alongside their support systems feel seen, heard and understood.

Please contact Phelicha!

-Phelicha Berdet, Linkage Coordinator, MA DPH Health and Disability Program

Email Phelicha.D.Berdet@mass.gov

Cell Phone: 617-279-3730