As human beings, we have an inherent need to connect with one another. Throughout our lives, we are constantly building relationships within various communities, from the neighborhoods where we grow up and the schools where we learn to the places we choose to live. But, when you don’t have an existing community to join, it can become easy to feel disconnected.
The Champions Community Foundation is an organization that empowers young adults with physical disabilities to live independently in a shared living environment, engage with each other, and adapt best practices to increase independence and self-reliance. After high school graduation, people with physical disabilities often find it difficult to be independent, becoming isolated, lonely, and depressed.
This Foundation encourages young adults to participate in a supportive community, surrounding them with athletic and social opportunities. But, the lack of physical proximity is often a debilitating factor in building a strong community. Because the Champions Community Foundation is based in Atlanta, it’s only really accessible to young adults in the city and surrounding area.
Our team was excited when the Foundation approached us to measure the level of need for an online community for young adults with physical disabilities. Specifically, the Foundation wanted to build an online community for individuals to connect with each other beyond the current Champions Place footprint.
We decided we could deliver the best results for this project with the help of our experience research branch, The ExperienceBuilt Group. MMR’s Strategic Advisor, Bill Denk, brought EBG’s User Research Lead, Dan McDonald, onto the project to deliver well-rounded insights to the Champions Community Foundation.
The Research Process
Acting as project manager and analyst, respectively, Bill and Dan collaborated to set objectives and discuss findings, bouncing ideas off one another.
To grow the Foundation’s virtual options to other states and other countries, they needed a receptive audience. Bill and Dan started by engaging with residents for their opinions. The research team chose to perform a series of interviews and surveys, inquiring about the level of interest in an online community, what platforms and channels residents currently use, and what they want to see on those platforms. These conversations with residents helped Bill and Dan create a comprehensive report, uncovering a desire for a virtual community.
What’s Next for the Champions Community Foundation?
Bill and Dan reported their findings to the Champions Community Foundation, which will now determine what the virtual transition will look like. Their main challenge will be deciding who will get the program up and running.
For example, suppose the Foundation chooses to create a Discord channel as their online community. In that case, they will need to figure out what type of content they need to create to boost engagement, whether residents will want to create content rather than just interact, and how they will adapt if they are facing challenges.
Once the Foundation creates its prototype, Bill and Dan will be brought back to collect feedback on the progress of the community.
Reflections from the MMR and EBG Team
The research team felt passionate about this pro bono project from the beginning, leading to a positive experience for everyone involved. The Foundation’s excitement came through, creating a positive atmosphere where everyone was committed to delivering a valuable online offering.
“Thank you to the Champions Community Foundation for this opportunity. We are excited to see the results of the project and continue our work with the Foundation in the future,” said Bill Denk.
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