The mission of Our Place is to support teens and adults with developmental disabilities so that they can live meaningful, productive, socially connected lives in their home community.
History: Our Place was founded in 2008 by a group of parents seeking ways to engage their children with developmental disabilities in their home community, the north suburbs of Chicago. We wanted the same things for our children with disabilities that we want for any child – and for ourselves: friends, meaningful activities and productive occupation.
In 2008, those opportunities did not exist in our community. The schools provided inclusive classes, but there were very limited programs outside the academic day. Our special recreation association serves close to 20 communities, so activities took place in far-flung suburbs and in facilities that weren’t being used for mainstream programs. Half of the program time was spent in transit.
Programs: We knew that our children belonged in their home community. We also knew if they were to succeed, they would need the social skills to make connections, function in work and community settings and adapt to stimulating environments. So, all of our programs target personal growth through skills development and immersion in community life. We facilitate intensive relationships with staff, peers, mentors and community volunteers.
Our Place programs provide:
- Opportunities and supports to make and sustain friendships.
- Individualized life coaching to attain personal goals.
- Meaningful work and job training in community settings.
- Ongoing development of cognitive and life skills.
- Classes and clubs to pursue individual interests.
- Sports and recreation activities, including Special Olympics teams.
Key aspects of our program make us even stronger:
- Peer mentors from area high schools and colleges strengthen the social skills of our participants.
- Our participants are fully engaged citizens of their home community, making valuable contributions.
In our short history, we have created a solid program that meets the needs of each of our participants while engaging with and strengthening our community.
Goals: Our primary goal is to enable every individual to achieve their highest potential. We do this by focusing on the skills needed for successful social interactions in all aspects of a full life. Our participants learn and practice these skills at work, with each other in social settings, with typical peers and community members, in classes and clubs, with service projects that improve the community and in recreational activities.