Connections to Community
For a person with PWS, it is incredibly difficult to find a place in the community where you can make a difference and fulfill your dreams without coming into conflict with their world’s biggest temptation and fear at the same time – food. Most people naturally have multiple roles in our community – peers, parents, employees, bosses, volunteers, students, instructors, consumers…. Some of these roles do not come so naturally for many of those we serve. The ladies and gentlemen in our program have, too, the basic need of belonging somewhere and being a part of something. They want to belong to a circle of people and make difference in the world.
After their transition into the adult program from school, young people are going through a major transition in their life. They need to create new social networks around themselves. They face different supports. They suddenly are supposed to become adults. Just like in the children’s program, a majority of them are longing for structure and want to stay busy during their days. An important part of their lives becomes their day program. Local day habilitation programs provide services for many of our adults. This is where they get to create new friendships, where they find constructive stimulation, where they go to work.
Some of our folks search for their opportunities beyond day habilitation programs. They are, just like many of their peers without PWS, looking for further growth – for further education, and for jobs or other opportunities in the community. This part is difficult. We are looking for environments with limited or no access to food and where the new part time employees could be accompanied by staff for vocational as well as emotional supports. Some of our folks are helping out with administrative tasks at Latham Centers. Others have paid cleaning jobs or part time jobs at stores. Our vocational staff is diligently and creatively researching any and all opportunities in the area. Volunteering is also a way to stay connected to the community. Some help out at local libraries or clear walking trails. Our folks are especially fond of work around animals. They love helping out at local farms and animal shelters. They can help out at many different levels and they do the job right.
We are looking for more opportunities for them to succeed in their adult life and bring them closer to their sense of accomplishment. The goal is for all those who are interested in working or volunteering to find an opportunity in the community. Some might be more skilled and some might require more assistance. That should not matter, though. The reward of being a part of community appears to be priceless. Everyone should obtain a chance to contribute to the world. With or without disability, each one of us can do it in our special way. Everyone should get the opportunity to feel important and needed.
Thank you, vocational staff, for making a difference in so many people from Gilbough Program, who want to make a difference.