Staffers from Island Grown Initiative, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard and Mass Audubon Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary have been honored with awards from the Island Disability Coalition for making their organizations more welcoming and inclusive for people of differing abilities.

The first-ever Inclusion Innovator award ceremony and reception took place last week at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services early education building in Oak Bluffs, bringing together a small but elated group of nonprofits and disability advocates.

“This is a celebration of all of the work that has been done, quietly and steadfastly,” said IDC coordinator and MVCS director of disability services Beth Wike.

“Our vision is that of an inclusive Martha’s Vineyard, so we’re in this for the long haul,” Ms. Wike added.

Kelly Neadow gets a hug from YMCA executive director Jill Robie-Axtell. — Ray Ewing

Inclusion and accessibility consultant Kat King, who for years has been advising Island schools and organizations on how to make their services available and welcoming for all people, presented the Inclusion Innovator awards to four nonprofit workers.

Emily Armstrong, education director for Island Grown Initiative, was honored for making Thimble Farm an easier place to visit and volunteer for people with disabilities of all kinds, including difficulty with loud sounds and other sensory input. Ms. Armstrong has made noise-canceling headphones and shaded seating areas available at the farm, and provides advance notice to visiting groups of the sensory environment — including a recommendation to bring spare socks in the likely case of wet feet, Ms. King said.

Ms. Armstrong also is working with other Island Grown staff on universal accessibility, she said as she accepted the award.

“This is a conversation we are all having at the farm,” Ms. Armstrong told the group. “This is a collaborative effort.”

The YMCA’s director of program operations, Kelly Neadow, received the Inclusion Innovator award for her leadership in extending accessibility at the Y.

Beth Wike (left) presents an award to Caitlin Houghton for her work studying the issue on the Island. — Ray Ewing

Ms. King cited the Y’s “sensory room,” a quiet place for childen who are overstimulated, among Ms. Neadow’s accomplishments.

Ms. Neadow, who started her YMCA of MV career as a lifeguard more than a decade ago, told the group she hopes more Islanders will get involved in accessibility work.

“Making a better Martha’s Vineyard for all of us just feels so good,” she said. “We have work to do.”

Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival education director Jenna Robichau accepted her award following a litany of praise from Ms. King for the organization’s inclusiveness, which ranges from descriptive audio devices and guided seating to hiring interns with disabilities and establishing a disability film festival.

“Thank you for setting the bar, and raising the bar,” Ms. Wike told Ms. Robichau and a beaming Brian Ditchfield, the film festival’s executive director.

Felix Neck education manager and camp director Josey Kirkland was not present to accept her Inclusion Innovator award for adding accessibility throughout the wildlife sanctuary. Along with accessible paths and activities and free tours by golf cart, Felix Neck welcomes volunteers and interns with disabilities, including students in the regional high school’s Voyager and Navigator classes, Ms. King said in her presentation.

A Tower Foundation grant to hire interns with disabilities has been so successful, Ms. King said, that it has become a model for all the other Mass Audubon programs.

“It is now mandated,” Ms. King said.

Along with the four nonprofit staffers, Vineyard resident Caitlin Houghton received an award for her study of employment opportunities for Islanders with disabilities, conducted under a state Gopen Fellowship for disability advocacy projects.

“I met many people and learned a lot about businesses I did not know about before,” said Ms. Houghton, who surveyed 10 organizations and presented her report in a slideshow at Tuesday’s gathering.

“I hope to get a job,” she added, as the audience applauded.

Thanking Ms. Houghton for her study, Ms. Wike said it was an important first step toward wider employment for Islanders.

“You’re making an impact in our community,” Ms. Wike said.