Monday, March 17, 2014

Living the Good Life

On a recent road-trip to central Nebraska, my son Marcus leaned back and sighed, “This is the good life.” That particular weekend there was much ado about Nebraska’s slogan: “The Good Life.” So I smiled in agreement while my mind wandered over the parallel metaphor to our world.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, it gets old defending the place you call home. Do you get tired of explaining
what exactly is good about “the good life” to those who say they could never…? To those who are filled with ill-conceived notions and stereotypes about our day-to-day? What beauties there are to see and experience?

Like many kids, I knew I’d leave Nebraska when I grew up. But the days went by and, though there were other opportunities along the way, I chose to stay. And sometimes there were circumstances that chose me instead. Which brings me to the parallel metaphor. Life with my son, Marcus.

It’s not a new idea, the metaphor of the physical place we find ourselves and our larger fate. So here we go…

On March 21st we will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. We celebrate because Down syndrome is part of who Marcus is. Like many families who find themselves in an unexpected place – it is not about making the best of it; it’s about celebrating the best of it.

What I’d like to share this World Down Syndrome Day, with those of you who don’t live in the place we do: It’s not what you think.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Place for Transition, Employment and Life Skills

A daily activity list for Madonna School Transition students includes work tasks, cooking, cleaning, functional academics, and contract work. Each item on this list is then individualized for each student. Pairs of three to four students work together for hour increments and then switch groups. The students complete these activities within the classroom, throughout the campus, and in the community.

In the not too distant past, the home base for all this planning, learning, coming and going was a small, one-room portable that sat near the school’s playground. For five years, multiple teachers, job coaches, and nearly 15 students enlivened the former Transition room with learning and laughter. Not surprisingly, after five years, the program outgrew this small space.

With the help of exceptional grant writing, generous giving, and a large group of helping hands, the Transition program of the Madonna School is now happily located inside a new wing of the building with a six-room facility. This wing operates with much more than simply a classroom. In it, students are able to utilize a full kitchen, practice bedroom, and workroom. The facility is also equipped with two bathrooms, an office, and an additional workstation that can be closed off with sliding walls.

Transition students are thriving in this new environment.

link to the official
Madonna School Website