Late this fall, Little Friends was presented with an opportunity to add new space for the organization’s future. I’m pleased to share that we took advantage of what was presented to us and have purchased the 62K square foot facility literally next door to our new school.
We have done this with the intention of moving our adult service program from Downers Grove to Warrenville. The combination of the two facilities in Warrenville will create a 14-acre campus, with our existing facility dedicated to providing children’s services and the new facility dedicated to providing support for adults and families challenged by intellectual/developmental disabilities and autism.
In previous articles in Positively Naperville, I hinted at plans our organization has been making to add new support and services for the adults we serve. The acquisition of this facility not only will serve as an upgrade to our existing facility, but also will provide additional space to add new job training and personal development opportunities for adults. Our vision now will be to provide resources to help younger adults who have finished with school (18-22 depending upon the person) up to an age closer to 35 years old.
While individual personal development classes and programs are planned, we also plan to offer access to several job training programs targeted at the neurodiverse community. Through an affiliation with an organization in Broward County, Florida, called Helping Autistic Adults Prosper and Excel (HAAPE), we are making plans to bring training programs they have developed specific to this community.
Available programs today include Drone Piloting, Cybersecurity and Website Development, CNC Machine Programming, and Supply Chain management. While more training is being worked on, these are exciting opportunities that we plan to explore and offer once we move into the new space targeted for July 1, 2023.
In addition to these specific programs, we have made a commitment to create physical space to develop a design lab that enables individuals to solve a problem through their own creativity and potential product invention. This will be another offering we provide in the coming year once we fully occupy the available space.
As I look at what we can do and what this new facility provides in terms of opportunity, I am excited about the potential this represents in terms of job training and supporting individuals to become more independent. We also envision that as we create space and time for those we serve, we will create opportunities to gather and socialize. We know from conversation with both parents and adults we serve that this is needed as well, and the new space will be ideal.
Clearly there will be more to announce as our plans unfold with this new initiative. As this gains traction and scheduling is finalized in the coming year, I promise there will be more to share on how Little Friends will be helping our community in the time to come!