The mission of Our Place is to support teens and adults with developmental disabilities so tthat hey can live meaningful, productive, socially connected lives in their home community.
Our programs focus on developing the skills necessary for successful social interactions so that our participants can be involved in family and community activities.
In our short history, we have created a solid, unique program that meets the needs of this underserved group while improving our community.
Our Place provides:
Opportunities to engage with friends in community settings – restaurants, the bowling alley, park district recreation centers, parks, and coffee shops.
Meaningful work experience and job training in community agencies.
Ongoing cognitive development and skill building through library programs, book groups, art classes, expressive language sessions, healthy eating and exercise programs.
A place to socialize and have a life of their own, where teenagers and adults make decisions and determine how they will spend their time.
Our after school activities allow these young people to participate in structured and casual programs with typical and developmentally disabled peers five days per week. Saturday Socials are held every week and provide our young people with an opportunity mix with typical and disabled peers and engage in conversation over dinner, socialize, dance and play games.
Program content has been enriched to give participants more opportunities to experience, model and practice social skills.
Our programs now include community service opportunities, community outings for recreation and enrichment, expanded expressive language activities, healthy food choices and meal preparation, group dining, and interpersonal relationship awareness and skills.
Vocational skills are taught and practiced at four community agencies where our participants work in teams with a job coach. Those who are not yet ready to work in the community learn job skills on site.
In collaboration with the Community Church of Wilmette, our participants purchase the ingredients and prepare sandwiches for 40 teens monthly to support the Night Ministry program.
For the past three years, the program has adopted needy families through the township holiday program and purchased, wrapped and delivered gifts to several families each year.
Participants and parents assist township staff four to six times per year in the local food drives that support the New Trier Food Pantry.
A key aspect of our program, and one that differentiates us from others, is our commitment to peer mentor involvement. We have built strong relationships with local high schools and typical peers from these schools assist in programs to provide natural peer modeling and opportunities for social engagement. Integrating typical peers into our programs effectively motivates our teens to use their developing social skills and provides support for our students as they build a network of friends in the community.
Who We Serve
We serve two primary populations. The first is adults over 22 years old who have aged out of mandated services. The second population is teens and young adults over age 16. This group can naturally transition into our full schedule of programs upon completion of their school provided services. The teens and adults we serve include, but are not limited to those with autism, Down syndrome, seizure disorder, developmental disabilities, Costello syndrome and Lowe syndrome.
We operate our programs in the center of our community at The Community Church of Wilmette, 1020 Forest Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois (Our Place is not affiliated with the church).