Meeting people who have common interests, feeling a sense of belonging, and being active in one’s community are important to most of us; Michael is no different. At the age of 26, Michael was content with his life, but felt something was missing. His grandmother wanted him to have more opportunities than she could provide. He had been living at home with her since graduation, and other than regular visits to the Kennywood Amusement Park and activities with his grandmother, Michael didn’t socialize with anyone his age.
When Michael’s grandmother learned of CLASS’s Community Skill Building Program, she thought it would be an excellent place for him to meet new people and participate in different activities. In the Community Skill Building Program, individuals work with their Program Specialists to choose classes they would like to attend to help them increase their independence.
Michael was excited to participate in a daily program that would enable him to visit with people other than his family and participate in a variety of activities. He chose classes that would allow him to further develop his social skills and build on his independent living goals. To help him enhance his social skills, Michael takes a Listening Skills Class to develop important skills associated with interacting with others and building relationships, as well as a Public Speaking Class to help him feel more comfortable speaking in front of others. His Public Speaking Class has also been a great outlet for him to share feelings and thoughts that are important to him. Michael connects with his friends online during his Computer Class, where he can access his social media account and play various online games.
Wanting to become more independent at home, Michael enjoys his Domestic Skills Class where he learns how to plan and prepare simple meals. His favorite class is Volunteer Options, where groups volunteer at local organizations to learn different vocational skills. Once a week, Michael and his peers visit the Animal Rescue League to do various tasks, including clerical assignments, cleaning, and tending to some of the animals. Of his time volunteering, Michael shared, “I never volunteered before and love working there. My favorite part of volunteering is taking care of the bunnies. I like going with Jan because I learn a lot from her and like helping all of the animals.”
Michael has been very successful during his time at CLASS. His positive and outgoing personality, coupled with staff’s ability to individualize a schedule that addresses Michael’s needs, have allowed him to try new things and build a positive relationship with his support team and peers. Michael feels that he belongs in his community by participating in different opportunities and meeting new people through CLASS. Michael’s involvement in the program provided him and his grandmother the resources they needed to fulfill the goals that many of us, including Michael, aspire to achieve.