“Necessity is the mother of invention”
In the year prior to my son’s graduation in June of 2013, I visited or talked with all 27 adult providers offering adult programs to Montgomery County residents. Our son was turned down by each and every one of them, leaving us with one choice – Self Directed Services. The first year in SDS was rough – hard to find appropriate staff, hard to find appropriate work and activities. Then in July 2014, with my son’s former HS teacher, we created a small non-profit Cura Personalis Project (www.thepproject.com). Starting with just 2 SDS participants and their staff, we started providing maintenance work at a local farm. We cared for various farm animals, tended a small vegetable garden and by the next Summer we had grown to 9 young adults (most in SDS) and started workshops for transition age youth to work along our adults learning critical vocational skills.
I knew my son needed a therapeutic work environment as he has severe anxiety on top of his developmental disabilities. Working outside, around animals, where lots of movement is available was just what we built with Cura Personalis Project (CPP). It’s no accident that Cura Personalis is Latin for “the whole person.” We now have 16 adult participants and are the weekday barn staff at a local public stable – doing whatever needs to be done; mucking, unloading hay, filling feed bags, painting fences – in addition to our vending, shredding and yard maintenance businesses. Because we have staff which have worked in the industry for many years, our staff is able to mentor and help new participant staff to problem solve how best to support the participant so that they gain valuable communication, social and employment skills. Our participants vary greatly. One transitioning youth, on the diploma track, needed a program to help him gain confidence in his social and communication skills. Another participant with severe disabilities came to us because the only program they were accepted in was a medical day program which offered limited peer engagement or meaningful activities.
CPP has been able to meet the needs of many who don’t fit well in traditional programming and want a day filled with activities they can see are meaningful in a warm, supportive work environment. CPP is now an approved vendor DDA participants. The program fees ( currently $7.50/hr) help to cover staff salaries, insurance and supplies. Participants can come 1-5 days a week.