Pathways was in the makings long before the doors even opened. A number of participants and staff worked together at a different facility. The participants wanted a program where they had more control over their day to day activities. In 1999 the Executive Director left her position at the former program and began working on developing a new participant driven program. In March of 2000 the 501C-3 status was granted and the program opened October 2000. Nine participants from the original program moved over to Pathways with their vision in place.
That is a bold statement but a true one. Everyone at Pathways takes real pride in their efforts towards increasing independence. While it may not be visible when someone walks in the door, each activity is designed to be fun but functional. A good example is a video game. While playing a game looks like a fun activity, that hand and wrist skill actually gave a participant the strength needed to open a bag of chips. While that victory seems small to some, to others it’s a huge step in independence. After that chip bag came ziplock bags and then containers. Now we have someone with increased independence at lunchtime. As an adult it feels much better to go out into the community at mealtime and be able to eat more independently.
Another major skill we work on is using technology. Advances in this area have opened all types of possibilities for the people we serve. Technology has given many people at Pathways a voice they never had before. They also are able to access the world the internet has to offer by using adaptive technology.
While each participant is responsible for working on their own independence, as a group, decisions are made by majority vote. Each of us gives input into what grants we apply for, what major purchases we make as well as who enters the program. Interviews of new staff are conducted by a panel of participants with the final decisions made by the Executive Director.