When Linda Creviston came to the city of Solon to lead the Blue Ribbon program in 2012 for individuals with special needs, she recalled finding a perfect niche.
After just retiring from a 35-year career at the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities, but still having a strong desire to be in the field of “DD,” the job of Blue Ribbon coordinator was timely to say the least.
“It was exactly what I had experience in and where my passion was,” she said.
Now she is retiring from Blue Ribbon after devoting seven years adding her vision to the program.
“I just knew it was time to retire, “Ms. Creviston said. “It is just a gift that is given to you, and it was to me. It was time to do something else.”
The Moreland Hills resident recalled the day when she started at the already established Blue Ribbon program in the area of adaptive recreation for individuals with special needs.
She did it her way, expanding the programming and making sure the special needs individuals who took part had a chance to get out in the greater community.
“Every weekend, we had a trip that was an outing in the community,” said Ms. Creviston, 68. That could mean anywhere from the Cleveland Museum of Art to area restaurants.
“I have always been in recreation or physical education and back in the day, we would have to struggle to get our folks out in the community,” Ms. Creviston recalled. “Boards of developmental disabilities back then were segregated and schools were separate from regular schools.”
The idea of inclusion of those people with disabilities out in the community was not where it should be.
“It was important for me that our folks not only take part in community activities but can also contribute to the community,” she said.
By being out in the community, people would have a better understanding of the special needs population, something that holds great importance to Ms. Creviston.
“That’s a huge contribution,” she said.
In her part-time role, Ms. Creviston grew the program to trips being presented 50 times a year, as well as ongoing weekly programs at the Community Center, including karaoke, dance and a movie night, among others.
“Number one, it’s fun,” Ms. Creviston said. “My whole job was to incorporate fun and fulfillment into people’s lives, and I was able to see that.”
Ms. Creviston found great fulfillment in seeing the individuals in the program develop certain skills, particularly social skills.
“In our community trips, we were one big happy family,” she said. “This was very enriching for me.”
Ms. Creviston has a family connection to the special needs community as her sister Heidi, 63, lives with her and has developmental disabilities.
Always by Ms. Creviston’s side, Heidi enjoys many of the programs offered through Blue Ribbon, Ms. Creviston said.
“Whatever program I was doing, she was a participant,” Ms. Creviston said. “It worked out perfectly.”
In her new retirement, Ms. Creviston is training to be a volunteer for Hospice of the Western Reserve. She has one grown son.
Founded in 2002, Blue Ribbon now serves nearly 2,000 individuals annually, ranging in age from teenagers to adult, providing recreational opportunities for both Solon residents and non-residents alike.