August 3rd, 2021 was the kick off of a new and exciting program at St. Louis Center called Independence College. Independence College was named by the founding team of residents with support from the team leader, Sheryl Mohr. The team felt strongly about this decision because they are here to grow in Independence and learn how to live the least restrictive life style as possible.

Independence can be seen as a continuum, with total dependence at one end and complete independence at the other extreme No one is completely independent in all areas, which also goes for people with ID. However, one can aim at guiding people with ID toward the most optimal level of independence that is attainable for an individual. To create a better understanding of how to promote independence in people with ID, perspectives need to be obtained from those whom it concerns the most, which are people with ID and those who support them. This is exactly what Mohr set out to do. She met with a core group of residents at St. Louis Center and talked with them about their ambitions, hopes, dreams and desires. She then set up a program based on what they felt they needed.

The team of residents here at SLC have set their own curriculum and has decided weekly what the next weeks teaching will encompass. On Tuesday of every week they are in the classroom learning, growing and participating. On Thursday’s they head to the community and carry out the teaching from Tuesday’s to the real life living. For example, when we learned about laundry duties, cleaning agents, sorting, folding and hanging up; we toured the laundry mat in Grass Lake. We then went to the store and compared prices for detergents and stain removers. The happiness and the knowledge that this young group of people has developed has empowered them to seek and grow in ways that they never knew was possible. Another great example is the week of teaching Health care. They each were given a calendar book with all of their pertinent information in case of an emergency. This calendar also had their doctor and dentist numbers in it. We talked about emergencies, what constitutes and emergency or what can be a call to the primary care doctor for care. We then went on a tour to the local pharmacy to learn what we need to know when picking up medications, we went to the fire department to ask some questions on fire safety and they went to the emergency room to see what care is and can be provided there.

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