Vista Life Innovations' CEO, Helen Bosch, sat down with Amy Alamar and Sarah CodyAmy Alamar and Sarah Cody from Parenting Beyond the Headlines this week to discuss the changing future for adults with disabilities. Often, individuals with disabilities are unsure how to learn necessary life skills for independence and how to transition into the workforce. For these adults, Vista can be an invaluable resource. Helen describes how "Vista is an organization that supports, trains, and educates young adults with disabilities so that they may be able to achieve the things that we all do- work, independent living, friends...all of the things that we want as adults."
"Our job is to look at an individual, determine how they learn, the best approach for them to learn, and then apply that to their curriculum."
Listen to the full podcast: here.
What is the Vista experience like?
"It's kind of like going to life skills college," Helen says. "Instead of learning academics, you learn money management, time management, all of the types of things you would need to function independently." Even though parents are usually apprehensive about having their children move away from home, Helen firmly believes that our students can handle the challenge. "They have the potential to succeed. They have the potential to live with independence, but they need to learn the skills. They're not just going to absorb them by observing others." Students at Vista learn by doing, especially in job training.
Are employers willing to give individuals with disabilities a chance?
In contrast to what you may expect, Helen says that businesses frequently want to hire young adults with differences. However, employers often don't know how to start the process of diversifying their workforce. "There's a fear factor that you're going to get a different quality of employment from someone with a disability...but given the right supports and trainings, [individuals with disabilities] can succeed as well as anyone else and generally make very loyal, very hardworking employees."
How Does Vista engage with the community?
"We not only train the young adults, but part of what we see our job is to train the community. Making the community aware of who we are and the kinds of supports that we offer, on the job for example."
Educating employers, and the community at large, is an essential part of Vista's mission. In addition to preparing students for life in the community, "the other half of the story is helping the community to receive the young adults." Through the Community Outreach Program, Vista students and members volunteer around the shoreline and are active in town hall meetings. This means that the community meets and sees our members in action.
What Is Vista all about?
"We call them everyday dreams. We can identify in a heartbeat the kinds of things that are important to us- it's our families, it's our friends, it's our jobs, it's where we live, it's a sense of accomplishment and independence. If you have a disability, you still feel those same things; you still want those same things. Our responsibility as a society, and at Vista, is to help those young adults achieve those same everyday dreams."