This past May, our Jacob graduated from high school. To most parents this is a happy occasion to be celebrated as your child moves from childhood into adult hood. In most families the child is about to take off to college, start to travel or start a career. It is a praise worthy transition. However, for another set of parents, like Jacob’s family, this happy moment does not come.
Jacob had no plan when he graduated high school. We assumed he would start the community college special education program and continue in school. Yet, you should never assume. In August of 2017 – North Carolina lost funding for their continued special education programs because they were not able to prove growth in the individual students. Right as we were about to end summer vacation and start Jacob’s new chapter in life… we heard that it was no longer our opportunity to take.
So, what do you do when there is no where for your child to go? Unfortunately this is a question many parents of children with disabilities have to scramble to answer.
Then the answer fell into our laps.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Milton Berle
Another mother, was trying to answer the same question. When she was unable to find a solution, she created Ryan’s Bridge, Inc. She wanted her son to have a program where he could learn and strive while getting purpose in life. Ryan’s Bridge has only been operating for 7-months; but during this time they are learning and figuring out how to grow and how to reach more individuals. Right now- the program has 3 individuals, though it started with 5. Between 3 teachers and the students caregivers- the program is providing education, volunteer opportunities and most importantly community.
The program meets Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and each week they are given the opportunity to volunteer in their community. Which we all know Jacob is all about! Most recently they have been volunteering each week at Loafs and Fishes- providing organization and sorting skills as well as helping make sure the facility is clean. Meaningful activities are so important with these populations. Jacob, and his friends, want to help, engage and be involved. By taking the chance to see their skills, they are able to help their community.
Ryan’s Bridge has been a God-send! The group has really “bridged” the gap between high school and life after for young adults with special needs in our community. Being part of Ryan’s Bridge has brought purpose to Jacob’s life and by doing so has truly enriched his quality of life allowing him to blossom as a young man. We are grateful for the group and all it’s members.
We are so thankful to have a program like Ryan’s Bridge come into our lives. We are excited to see where this small program goes and help support it however we can!
If you would like to keep up to date with Jacob and his peers at Ryan’s Bridge; follow them on instagram by searching @ryansbridge