Adding a creative outlet for teens with special needs, the Our Place After School Care program is moving into a new space that includes a shop called Freedom Factory to sell student-created items.
“It allows them to learn a skill that is productive and that they feel good about,” said CEO Adeline Johnson. “It allows the community the opportunity to come in and interact with the kids.”
Organizers invite the public to visit the new location during the store’s grand opening on Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 1117 E. South St., the former Educational Services Unit No. 9 building next to Anytime Fitness.
Johnson said the children in the program will move into the new space from the basement of Faith Lutheran Church starting Monday to give them time to process the news and acclimate to unfamiliar surroundings.
In addition to growing from three rooms to 1,700 square feet of space, the new location will be handicap accessible, opening up the program to students who may not have been able to participate in the previous area.
Our Place offers a supervised after-school educational experience for students ages 13-20 who are too old for traditional after-school child care programs but require extra attention and guidance.
Operating in assistance with the Arc of Adams Clay County and Faith Lutheran Church, the 501c(3) non-profit organization is facilitated by paid staff and volunteers who teach social, academic, and life skills empowerment in a nurturing and mentally stimulating environment. that students can relax and enjoy.
Johnson said the program is modeled after the Roots To Wings job training program for youth with disabilities located in Arlington, where students are taught life skills that allow them to create and sell products in a store staffed by students and volunteers. .
By moving into the old ESU 9 building, Johnson said Our Place will be able to follow suit by adding the Freedom Factory store. The store will provide teens with additional social experiences, an outlet for their productivity, and funds for their independence.
“They get a paycheck when an item is sold,” he said. “Seeing a paycheck and being able to spend it on what they want, that’s freedom.”
Gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or other occasions are available. The decoration includes pre-mixed ingredients for cakes, cookies, sauces and soups.
Currently, the students have made paintings and coasters for the store. To supplement the student-made items, Johnson said, other items will be consigned or donated. Area artists are allowed to use the exhibit space on consignment and a portion of the funds are used to support the program.
The store will be run by volunteers, including retired people who enjoy crafts and have volunteered to help students learn new skills.
Later, students will also be able to produce from crops grown in their garden for sale. Johnson said they have to have a commercial kitchen to sell consumables through a store and are in the process of installing equipment in the kitchen.
Freedom Factory will add to the other activities offered by the program, such as gardening, food preparation and other job training opportunities designed to develop the skills necessary for employment.
“There are kids who want to do productive things,” Johnson said. “We did some community service, which is nice, but it’s not theirs. They get to own this.”
Our Place After School Care program launched in the spring of 2018. For more information, call 402-519-5197 or visit ourplacecare.org.