The Rural Solutions Program provides a unique service to Iowa farmers and their families not available through any other entity in the state of Iowa. Founded by Easter Seals Iowa in 1986, the program has received national and state awards and has been replicated in over 30 states around the country. The Easter Seals Rural Solutions program is celebrating 25 years of serving Iowa farmers and their families.
Anyone who is interested is invited to join the celebration on August 26, 2011, from noon to 3 p.m. for a hog roast and open house at the farm of Lon and Sandy Strum at 59149 140th Street, Roland Iowa. There will be a program at 12:15 p.m.
Rural Solutions helps farmers with a disability return to farming
For farm family members with a newly acquired disability, Rural Solutions offers often the only hope they have to return to farming. This program allows farmers to continue to be gainfully employed, taxpaying citizens and allows them to be as independent as possible in their communities and continue to live in their own homes. Less than 20% of the people served in the Rural Solutions program acquire their disability as a result of a farm related incident. Over 55% of persons served acquired their disability as a result of a health condition i.e. stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, etc.
Since the program's inception, Rural Solutions has served more than 1,762 Iowa farm family members with disabilities, from all 99 counties, making it possible for them – and their families – to continue the rural way of life.
The Rural Solutions program directly serves Iowa farm family members in all 99 counties. Specifically, it helps Iowa farmers and their families with disabilities to return to farming by making modifications to their farm equipment and their homes so that they can continue to make a living by farming. The services are provided on site, at the farm to meet the individual needs.
Services are provided on site, at the farm to meet individual needs
Some of the modifications that the Rural Solutions has designed and help farmers with are grain bin lifts, tractor/combine lifts, extended and widened tractor steps, modified hand tools, tractor/combine seating systems, and porch lifts to name a few. Home accommodations have included ramps, making bathrooms more accessible and widening doorways among the many others.
Program components include: agricultural worksite and home modification consultations, services for the family, information and referral, equipment loan services and a safety education component that teaches farm family members with disabilities how to prevent secondary injuries and illnesses.
In 1992 Bob Brown, now a retired farmer, injured his hand in a combine incident. He learned about the Rural Solutions program at the hospital. Bob was a carpenter as well as a farmer. Rural Solutions helped him with modifying his tools so with the use of only two fingers; he was able to use the hand tools in his farming operation, along with his off-farm employment as a carpenter.
Farmers able to keep working, thanks to support and encouragement
In addition to hand tools, Easter Seals provided him with the tools to psychologically adjust to his disability by offering him emotional support, along with connecting him with another farmer who had a similar disability. Bob is now in turn helping others who want to know how he was able to keep working with a disability by offering support and encouragement. For other stories on how the Rural Solutions Program has made a difference in other Iowans' lives, please contact Renee Bell at Easter Seals Iowa.
For more information about the Easter Seals' Rural Solutions Program contact the intake coordinator at 515.309.1783 (phone), 515.289.4069 (tty), [email protected] or visit our website at www.eastersealsia.org.