Inspire Continuing Care Program launched in Geneseo for young adults

Claudia Loucks
Jenn Johnson

After high school, what’s next for young adults with unique qualifications? That is what Jenn Johnson had been asking herself for some time, and she believes she has found an answer.

Johnson is the director of a new daytime community program for young adults that have aged out of special education or graduated from high school – Inspire Continuing Care (ICC) will open its doors on Thursday, Aug. 12, in The Victory Center, (The Vic building) at 218 South State St. in Geneseo, and will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday year round.

The young adults who attend ICC must be at least 18 years of age and have completed four years of traditional high school.

“Enrollment will depend on the needs of each young adult,” Johnson said, and added that participants can attend daily or weekly and lunch is provided. More information is available by email at inspirecontinuingcare@gmail.com and at https://sites.google.com/view/inspirecontinuingcare/home.

“We have an agreement with Bob Pettit, (owner of the building) to use the facility which is entirely handicap accessible, including restrooms,” Johnson said.

The program is being funded by grants from within the community as well as from private donations from individuals in the community, Johnson said, and explained there also will be participant tuition.

“Inspire Continuing Care exists to provide an opportunity for post-high school young adults with unique qualifications to gather during the daytime with supervision, to ensure their continuing access to social, emotional and physical enrichment and well-being,” she said. “We do not have a vocational component to the program, but we will serve young adults with unique qualifications that may include but are not limited to: requiring assisted communication methods and devices, assistance with mobility, feeding and/or personal care.”

Johnson noted that some young adults don’t qualify for the Abilities Plus jobs program in Kewanee…”Sometimes the only option is to stay at home, which can sometimes be a very challenging and depressing time,” she said. ICC keeps young adults in their own community, present, active and engaged and continuing life skills they have learned in school.”

Some of the activities at ICC may include:

-Regular field trips in Geneseo and the Quad Cities such as festivals, museums, convention center activities, libraries, retail stores, restaurants and more.

-Cooking (plan, shop, prepare a dinner to bring home “ready to bake” for family to enjoy once a week.

-Discover, learn about and participate in local current events.

-Recreational exercise activities (walks, community center, etc.)

-Entertainment (movies, videos, music).

-Fine Arts (art, music, theater).

-Community services opportunities (pet walking service, newspaper delivery, shopping/errand service).

Johnson shared the mission statement and said, “Inspire Continuing Care provides opportunities.

“Much of our activity planning will be a collaboration with the participants, allowing them to play an active role in determining how they would like to spend their time as young adults in the community,” she said, and added, ”That is our goal.”

In addition to Johnson, ICC has two additional staff members – Brenda Verbeck and Stephanie Stephenson.

Johnson said the new program has been in the planning stages for the last 2 ½ years. She began working in the Special Education field in 2010, after spending the previous 14 years at home with her children. During the last 11 years, she has worked as a highly qualified special education paraprofessional in all grades levels (K-12+) of the Life Skills program in the Geneseo School District. She has successfully implemented an adaptive curriculum for students with a wide variety of unique learning needs, most specifically working with students experiencing communication and mobility challenges.