Twelve young adults who are legally blind - including many away from home for the first time - are participating in a summer residential program to learn to live independently, seek competitive employment, and attend college or vocational training programs.
The Summer Orientation & Mobility and Adapted Living Resource program (S.O.A.R.) administered by Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis is now in session in apartments at residential halls at Webster University.
Participants are undergoing three weeks of intense training in adapted living techniques that include cooking, kitchen management, self-care, clothing management, money management, home maintenance and sex education.
S.O.A.R. participant Marcus Boyer, who attended the program last year and is back this year, says, "I now know what I have to do to become more independent to live my life."
Nineteen specialists from Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis are working in the day and night-time program, which includes mock employment interviews, skills for campus navigation, community access, public transportation, plus a dating seminar weekend. The specialists include Adapted Living Specialists, Orientation & Mobility Instructors, and college-age peers.
S.O.A.R. Program Director Kevin Hollinger says, "Our emphasis on independence also fosters expectations for independent travel skills, interpersonal relationships, post-secondary transition, organizational skills and career exploration." A number of S.O.A.R. graduates from previous years are now working in good jobs or as interns for St. Louis-based companies such as Nestle-Purina and the St. Louis Community Credit Union, says Hollinger.
"Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis provides continuing opportunities for participant and family training and follow-up consultations as part of the Lighthouse commitment to S.O.A.R. program success," says Hollinger. "Our S.O.A.R. graduates will continue to build awareness of skill sets needed to live independently while pursuing educational, career and family interests."
The Lighthouse rents apartments, residential halls and common areas from Webster University to administer the three-week S.O.A.R. program, which the Lighthouse originated in 2007. Katie Knetzer, Webster's Director of the Community Center, says, "The Lighthouse has always been a delight to work with, and is very good at communicating with us."
The S.O.A.R. program began June 8th and continues through June 28, 2014.
Nearly 70 percent of people who are blind are not employed. S.O.A.R. helps change this scenario for the better by building skill sets needed to live independently while encouraging the pursuit of educational, career and family interests.
Founded in 1933, LHB is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that helps children and adults who are visually impaired maintain dignity and independence by offering employment, education and many support services.
Today and for many years LHB and its employees have manufactured, assembled, warehoused and sold high-quality products to customers nationwide including emergency survival kits , first aid kits, medical kits, catheters, aerosol and liquid paints, aerosol and liquid cleaning products, eco-friendly products and many others.
All sales revenues directly support Lighthouse programs including;
S.O.A.R. Program Director Kevin Hollinger at 636.578.0124
For more information about the Lighthouse for the Blind-saint Louis, contact Brittney Smithers, Marketing Manager, at 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333