Elena, a 23 year old young woman from St. Charles County, has been a participant with Pathways to Independence (PTI) for a little less than a year. PTI supports the development of skills that positively impact the lives of adults with disabilities who seek greater independence and social success. Elena says she initially joined PTI because “my mom encouraged me to try it to give me more opportunities to make more friends.”
One of PTI’s programs that Elena has found success with is called Social Focus. The program promotes the deepening of existing friendships and enriches planning skills. The Social Focus program allows the participant to plan their own small group event with the help of a program manager. The smaller group setting allows for more in-depth conversations. The participant works on planning skills such as choosing a location, making reservations, budgeting, inviting others, transportation and time management.
Elena says the PTI staff “has helped me to make many small groups with friends.” In particular, there is a group of St. Charles women, including Elena, who meet up regularly with the assistance of program manager, Jessie Steinberg. “The more I hang out and talk with the girls, the more I get to know them better and they know me,” Elena says. Recently this group has taken a trip to the zoo, but in the past they have seen movies, gotten manicures and been out to eat. Along with the planning skills Elena has gained through the Social Focus program, she says, “I have learned about tipping at restaurants.”
Elena also participates in the Social Growth program that includes about 20 staff-planned events per month. While participating in this program, Elena says, “I can talk to the people at events that I don’t know and not just stay around the ones I do know.”
With the help of PTI, Elena’s goal of making friends is being met, her social experiences are expanding and her confidence in herself and her abilities has grown. Go to www.ptistl.org to read more about other PTI participants and watch our impact video.