woensdag 16 januari 2013

Perkins opens innovative independent living apartments for students

Inspiratie beperkt zich niet alleen tot Nederland, we brengen ook nieuws, voorbeelden en ideeen uit de rest van de wereld over samen zorgen, manieren van wonen en zorgen en innovaties. 

Perkins School for the Blind has opened two new on-campus apartments that will give the “gift of independence” to near-adult students preparing for life after school.
The Patti & Mike Cataruzolo Independent Living Apartments represent the first step into the rest of their lives for students who are blind. They will allow students an opportunity to live on their own and practice critical life skills, such as food preparation, household chores, paying bills and more.

A girl reads a book via a screen which magnifies the text.
A student uses accessible technology to read a book in the new Independent Living apartments.
It’s part of a Perkins initiative to help students with visual impairments successfully transition to the “real world.” In recent years, the school has placed more emphasis on preparing students for college, careers and integration into the wider world.
“We’re able to give a gift to our students, and that gift is of independence,” said Perkins President Steven Rothstein in remarks at the dedication ceremony.

The apartments are named after two longtime members of the Perkins and Watertown communities. Mike Cataruzolo has worked at Perkins for more than 50 years, and is currently the Manager of Volunteers and Tours. His wife, Patti, is a former Perkins teacher and current volunteer. Both are visually impaired. Mike and Patti Cataruzolo met while working at Perkins, and they were married in the Perkins chapel.
Mike Cataruzolo has been a longtime advocate of giving older students more opportunity to live independently. “These apartments mean so much to Patti and I because they exemplify what we really feel individuals should achieve – independence in living,” he said. “Our students can come to these apartments to achieve high skills, so eventually they can step into society and live independently in the community.”
A student and teacher sit around the dinner table.
A student demonstrates meal time in the kitchen of the new Independent Living apartments.
The apartments were made possible by a gift from Bill Schawbel, a member of the Perkins Board of Trustees, and his wife, Judy A. Samelson. At the dedication ceremony, Schawbel praised the Cataruzolos as “a model of independent living and success beyond belief.”
The Independent Living Apartments will house two to four students. They are built like standard residential apartments – including furniture and appliances – with some special adaptations for people with visual impairments.
Two students play cards.
Two students play cards in the living area of the new on-campus apartments.
Mike Cataruzolo and a student in the kitchen of the new on-campus apartments.
Mike Cataruzolo jokes with a student in the kitchen of the new on-campus apartments.

Students living in the apartments will generally be between 18 and 21, and will either attend school fulltime or hold a part-time job while participating in Perkins’ “Transition to Work” program.
The apartments are located in the school’s historic Lower School building, which is being renovated.
“This is our 182nd year of service,” Rothstein said. “In the last few years, we have more students in wheelchairs, more students with medical challenges. As the students evolve, the buildings have to evolve, too.”

Board of Trustees member Bill Schawbel, Patti and Mike Cataruzolo and Pres. Steven Rothstein
Perkins School for the Blind Board of Trustees member Bill Schawbel displays a plaque commemorating the opening of the Patti & Mike Cataruzolo Independent Living Apartments. Patti and Mike Cataruzolo (center) and Perkins President Steven Rothstein also attended the dedication ceremony for the new on-campus residences on September 15.

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