Andi “Everyday Hero”
Age: 21 Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
Andi came to Moving Forward right after completing high school in her hometown where she attended a public school and participated in “regular” classes as well as some held in the school’s special education learning center. With challenges ranging from ADHD and OCD to ODD, anxiety and depression, Andi had always had a difficult time socially. Since joining Moving Forward in 2008, Andi has flourished.
“This is the first time in her life that she has been truly happy for any extended time,” explains Andi’s dad Jeff, a high school English teacher. “We looked at several other programs nationwide, but this seemed to be the best fit. We wanted an environment that fosters a feeling of accomplishment, and works to build self-respect and self-esteem so that Andi would be able to make independent decisions about her life with confidence. At Moving Forward, she feels wanted, needed, and valued by the other residents, as well as the staff.
“She is always excited about something when I talk to her,” continues Jeff. “We went to New York at Christmas; she got a subway map and was telling the rest of us where to go. She’s not afraid anymore, and she has so much more confidence.”
Andi is now seeking employment, after having gained work experience at Goodwill and through Moving Forward’s community volunteer work program. She attends many of Moving Forward’s classes including music, cooking, women’s relations, budgeting, health and skincare, and plays keyboard in the Moving Forward band.
Moving Forward Towards Independence offers hope and life lessons to young adults with learning disabilities. For many young adults, learning how to cope in the world after high school is a challenge. In fact, for most, it’s a rather complex process: Figuring out what to do, finding a job, managing finances and paying bills, getting along with a roommate for the first time, learning that cooking means more than nuking something in the microwave, etc. Each of these involves a learning process and when tackled all at once, can be overwhelming to even the most capable among us. Now imagine attempting to take it all on with extra-cognitive challenges. That’s what the residents of Napa, California-based Moving Forward Towards Independence, face – with enthusiasm and courage – every day.
Moving Forward Towards Independence is a nonprofit, residential program in beautiful Napa, CA committed to guiding our residents to achieve their highest potential. By providing an environment that maintains a balance of challenges and support, Moving Forward fosters growth in social, vocational and interpersonal skills. Working in partnership with residents and their families, we offer a caring and responsive community where young adults with complex learning or mild developmental disabilities can enjoy productive, fulfilling and healthy lives. For more information visit www.moving-forward.org
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This post originally appeared on our November/December 2010 Magazine