By Ella Martin
Inclusion of all people in a community is important. For that goal, a new group called The Hive Inclusive, created by Tonya Whitlock, makes it a priority to give the disabled community more opportunities to interact with others.
Whitlock came up with the idea for The Hive Inclusive due to her son, Trace, who is 28 years old and has cerebral palsy. Whitlock said her son “watched his other siblings move out and live their own lives” and that “he wished to have the opportunity to do the same.” This sparked an idea to create a group where disabled people could interact with everyone in the community.
Currently, the local area has no inclusive living and a lack of social activities for the disabled, leading to most disabled people being part of ‘the cliff,’ meaning they are segregated from the local community. The Hive Inclusive was in the making back in January 2020 to resolve this. However, in March 2020, COVID-19 put the project on hold.
It started back up again in October 2021, where a team of four people would meet weekly to work on creating The Hive Inclusive. In June 2022 the team began planning to create their own building to run The Hive Inclusive in.
Right now, the group operates out of Bayshore Baptist Church and meets weekly. On Saturday mornings, there are instructor-led classes, and on Saturday nights there are social events. The classes are targeted towards the disabled members of The Hive Inclusive.
During classes, the members learn and work on many skills. Local people come in and teach classes based on their profession. Some classes include a local chef teaching how to make mac and cheese, a local artist teaching how to make abstract paintings and a local writer teaching members how to tell a story.
Later at night, there is then a social event where all members, disabled or not, are encouraged to come. At the event, there are food, drinks and activities, such as karaoke, with the main goal of having fun as an inclusive community.
The Hive Inclusive collaborates with Hope4Life, which is a caregiving agency, and CUP (Coffee Uniting People). It also partners with local sponsors and people in order to gain money for future activities and programming. Currently, the group is working on creating housing in the Tampa metro area that is affordable, multigenerational and inclusive.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining The Hive Inclusive, you can buy a membership online at https://theinclusivehive.org/ for $10 a month or $90 a year. For more information, visit Facebook @theinclusivehive, Instagram @inclusivehive and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/hive-inclusive-community/.