Birmingham’s Full Life Ahead Foundation releases its updated workbook and guide for teens and young adults with disabilities and their families.
Published: March 1, 2018
By: Lori Chandler Pruitt
Teens and young adults with disabilities and their families have an updated, user-friendly resource to help set life goals and become independent.
The Full Life Ahead Foundation of H.O.P.E, a Birmingham-based nonprofit, has released a newly revised and updated edition of its ground-breaking Full Life Ahead Workbook and Guide. This guide is used nationwide by states and universities as an education tool and is considered the only “user-friendly” transition guide available to institutions and families.
“Our updated guide has more than doubled in size with resources for families,” says Tammy Moore, Full Life Ahead executive director and mom of a 24-year-old special needs daughter. “This guide has everything you need to help your child become more independent, and things you didn’t know to ask.”
The guide has easy to navigate tabs for each chapter that guides families through several areas, including IEP and transition planning to adult living; employment, staying safe and healthy, managing money, driving and transportation, college or further training and a new section on adult healthcare. There are also hundreds of current resources for every possible disability, including websites and toll-free numbers that can lead users nationwide to local availability. The foundation also worked with other groups to update the book.
The book was created by Judy Barclay and Jan Cobb, co-founders of the Full Life Ahead Foundation and moms of kids with disabilities. “We were just two moms, along with numerous contributors, who wanted to put together a workbook designed for students and parents to help guide teens into adult life,” they say. “It contains all the information we wish had been available to us as our own children faced this milestone. We realized how overwhelming it is just to survive every day dealing with a child with a disability, much less make any plans for the future.”
The book also includes updated stories from those who have or are navigating the same paths to independence. “Our dream is to eventually make this guide into an app,” Moore says.
Books can be purchased for $25 at www.fulllifeahead.org/store/ or by calling 205-439-6534. Proceeds help benefit the foundation’s programs. Organizations that want to purchase more than four books can call for special pricing and shipping.
Full Life Ahead itself offers many resources for families via its website and more, including:
- Family weekends at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin for families to get away, meet other parents and learn from experts and from one-on-one consultations. Teens or young adults can practice real-life skills and make new friends.
- O.P.E. Teams, where families and community are brought together to set goals and personally connect families with individuals, agencies and organizations that can help them reach those goals.
- Connecting families to other families to offer encouragement.
- A newsletter, online helpful brochures, a blog and success stories from young people with disabilities.
The guidebook is a vital tool for agencies who serve young people with disabilities. “As a social worker and a transition specialist, these workbooks have been an invaluable tool in helping the young people with disabilities we serve to start thinking about life goals and becoming independent,” adds Kathryn Chodkiewicz, transition coordinator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. “Transition to adult life can be daunting, but the workbook gently guides them through the process. I am so excited about getting the updated workbook out to the individuals and families that I serve.”
Lori Pruitt is associate editor of Birmingham Parent.