Born in 2014, Connecting Point of Park Cities Serves Young Adults
When a skiing accident left a young man with a traumatic brain injury, his mother’s life changed forever in the blink of an eye. She wasn’t sure what to do.
It was 2005, and her son was 17 years old. Though he would remain in public school special programs until he was 21, she had no idea what would come next.
When she began to seek out post-high school options, what she found was unsubstantial and disappointing — not much existed in the way of enriching, interactive programs for adults with special needs and disabilities. After high school, people with disabilities often find themselves locked out of their communities, unable to connect, integrate, or contribute.
CONNECTING POINT WAS BORN IN JUNE 2014
She didn’t want that for her son, so she rallied a group of supportive citizens and parents in similar situations.
They formed a board of directors, planned, and started to raise funds. Through their collective efforts, Connecting Point of Park Cities, a high-quality, cohesive day program, was born in June 2014.
The mission is simple: To serve people with disabilities by providing “an impactful day program for adults with disabilities, connecting them to opportunities in their community by serving as volunteers and fostering independence through vocational, educational, social and recreational initiatives.”
The program assists a broad range of people, including those with developmental disabilities, brain injuries, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy.
Attendees are called “teammates” and are welcome to attend from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The curriculum includes one-on-one instruction and time spent out in the community, Executive Director Jamie Reynolds said. The group eats out each Thursday, and takes field trips to places such as the Dallas Museum of Art and NorthPark Center.
The teammates also engage with their community by spending time volunteering at local nonprofits such as the North Texas Food Bank.
CONNECTING POINT FOCUSES ON DEVELOPING SKILLS
Day in and day out, Connecting Point of Park Cities focuses on developing skills in seven different areas: life enhancement (promoting personal care and independent living skills), community habilitation (self-advocacy and conversation), healthy living (learning about nutrition and exercise), creative arts (art and music), vocational skills (job-related tools), academic foundations (expanding opportunities for learning), and culinary arts (food preparation).
The schedules are arranged to fit the needs of the individuals, and approximately 13-15 people visit Connecting Point each day. Currently, 25 families are enrolled.
The program is supported in part by volunteers and donations.
“We dream of a day when society recognizes that all adults of all abilities have purpose and value.” _ Executive Director Jamie Reynolds
On April 13, Connecting Point will host Emerald City Connects, to be held at the Belo Mansion. This fundraising event costs $175 per ticket and has different tiers of sponsorship available.
During the event, which will include live music (provided by the Emerald City Band), dancing, dinner, and auctions, Tom Landis will receive the 2016 Ryan Albers Lifetime Achievement Award for his support of individuals with disabilities. In 2015, Landis opened Howdy Homemade, an ice cream parlor staffed by individuals with special needs.
Landis recently was featured in a Dallas Innovates article.
“We dream of a day when society recognizes that all adults of all abilities have purpose and value,” Reynolds says. “That’s what we hope to achieve by bringing our teammates into the community.”
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