Nature Links/Maine

Nature Links-Maine: A Collaborative in Behalf of Better Services

for Young Adults with Unique Abilities /Disabilities

 Gregory Bush  publicbush@gmail.com  cell: 305-926-5001

Mission:

Nature Links-Maine believes in expanding the rights of young adults with intellectual disabilities (18-35 yrs old) through vibrant regular programs based on the natural world, through well designed housing opportunities and public information for their benefit, job training, independent life and social skills as well as the opportunity to express and value themselves through the arts.

Led by an Advisory committee of parents, teachers and several nonprofits: Local Initiatives, primarily for housing and Nature Links for programs, these non-profits will further define their operations, first in Waldo and Hancock Counties, and then beyond in the state of Maine. Track records have been established in housing by the Parrish House in Bar Harbor (set up by Local Initiatives – with ongoing help from VOA and Community Housing of Maine), ongoing efforts in Belfast and programs by Nature Links, originally forged in Miami Florida. www.naturelinks.net

Advisory Committee:

Lori Wessel, Steve and Dede Johnson, Linda Lee, Gregory Bush, Dee Karnofsky, Roberta Raymond; Others:

General Elements of the Collaboration:

-Parent led Initiatives; advertise periodic local public meetings; identify possible recruits, teachers, transportation, program/housing locations, partners, and funding possibilities.

-Target population: 18-35 yrs old- varied exceptionalities depending upon program definition

-Identify initial program and housing locations in Waldo and Hancock Counties

-Collaborate with existing agencies, non-profits and businesses. Need for private public partnerships with local and and state officials as well as academic/professional oversight and assessment.

-Flyers and publicity/Website/Facebook set up with video links and program sites.

Initial Targets of Operation

  1. Regular Weekday Educational Programs and Social Events

-Target population for programs: 18-35 year olds with mid-level

-Independent life skills: cooking, gardening, financial literacy; social skills

-experiential interaction with the natural world: cooking, gardening, citizen science

-training for paid work and volunteer activities; community service

-promoting healthy bodies; recreation- sailing

  1. Independent Housing

-diversity of living possibilities; Example in Bar Harbor: Parrish House; Jonah’s Place in Belfast

-cost, protocols; ongoing dialogue with VOA and CHM for other locations

  1. Expanded Public Information/Outreach Efforts Regarding Benefits and Local Programs for Target Population and their Parents/Guardians

-SSI vs SSDI; Housing vouchers; VR-Job training; Med waiver services

-Use of flyers, local public meetings, interaction with public school officials and teachers

-expansion of website/Facebook links.