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Feature: Building a Whole Beautiful Life as an Adult with Disabilities

Life l u f i t u a e Building a W hole B as an Adult with Disabilities

By Sarah Mortensen

In a neighborhood near Columbia River High School lives a family of five brothers, two chickens and one dog. This family is like most families who have their own daily routines for meals, recreation and relaxation, except the “brothers” are actually residents of Winegarden Adult Family Home. Lyle (names have been changed to protect privacy), enjoys going on a daily walk and helps to take care of Onie, the dog. Sometimes he’ll run a quick errand to the store to pick up a forgotten ingredient for dinner that night. Lyle has Autism. Before being referred to Winegarden, he lived in a state-run inpatient facility. Now, Lyle enjoys learning to cook, going to the library and spending time with his roommates. Brian is one of those roommates. While Lyle likes to sleep in, Brian is the first one to wake up in the morning and get the house going. Brian was born with intellectual disabilities, but his humor is outstanding. He easily laughs at his own jokes and makes everyone around him smile. He likes to stay busy, working part time in a fast food restaurant and filling his free time with everything from bowling, to basketball, and dancing. What he likes most about living in the adult family home is that “it has friends.” According to Washington State’s Developmental Disabilities Administration,

80 percent of adults with disabilities live at home with their families, and 20 percent live in other situations including supported living facilities or adult group homes. Depending on the health of the individual, some will live in skilled nursing facilities. What makes a family or group home different is that the residents live similarly to the way they grew up with their families. “Adult family homes support the families [of our residents] by providing quality care for adult children. Parents and

helps students with severe disabilities transition from school into the workforce. Opening Winegarden was a natural next step in her passion to help the adult population of her students. “The number of adults with disabilities continues to increase, [and] there are fewer institutions . . . We just wanted to provide quality living for five individuals.” A Christmas tree stays up year round, which the residents decorate for each

80 percent of adults with disabilities live at home with their families, and 20 percent live in other situations including supported living facilities or adult group homes. other family members are kept informed of resident’s accomplishments, needs, and desires. Most residents have strong connections with their families,” says Betty Andrews-Arnett, owner and caretaker at Winegarden. Andrews-Arnett was originally a special education teacher in Vancouver Public Schools. After retiring and inheriting her childhood home, she transformed the house into an adult family home in 2016. As a teacher, Betty had created Gateway to Adult Transition Education (GATE) which

holiday. Flowers and vegetables are grown in the backyard, neighbors often stop by to bring over goodies to share, and they don’t bat an eye when Brian dances to the radio on his front porch. This environment, which supports the individual’s interests and encourages community integration, allows the residents to thrive. Additionally, they are able to make many decisions for themselves. “It’s not just socialization and recreation, it’s really about building a whole beautiful life,” says Darla Helt, executive director of PEACE (Parents Empowered And Communities Enhanced). continued on next page

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Vancouver Family Magazine • www.vancouverfamilymagazine.com • April 2019

Profile for Julie Buchan

Vancouver Family Magazine April 2019  

The magazine for Southwest Washington families.

Vancouver Family Magazine April 2019  

The magazine for Southwest Washington families.

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