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6,000 Miles for the Change of a Lifetime

May 27, 2015

Four individuals with developmental disabilities embark on an experiential learning cross country trip

On May 30, four guys will begin their journey of traveling 6,000 miles – an experience that will change them for a lifetime. It may seem like just another cross-country road trip to the west coast, but it couldn’t be further from ordinary. These four guys are part of Guys Group, a social group for young men with developmental disabilities (DD). Developed by People Inc.’s Life Quality Coaching Department, the Guys Group helps participants discover and nurture their passions, build lasting friendships and develop important life skills so that they have increased opportunities to live and work independently. People Inc. is the leading non-profit human services agency in Western New York.

With the assistance and support of two People Inc. life quality coaches, this trip is their chance to learn in action everything from planning and budgeting to safety and social skills – almost everything needed for an average tourism venture.

One way the guys helped prepare for the trip was by making a check list. Twenty-two-year-old Aaron Hanson, a People Inc. Guys Group and trip participant who is autistic, said making the list helped him learn new organizational skills.

“I have to make sure I have enough clothes for each portion of the trip,” he said. He also learned how to develop a budget and use his new bank card. But beyond the planning and preparation, Hanson can’t wait to see new parts of the country. “I want to learn about new places and take a lot of photos,” Hanson said. He hopes to take his picture in front of “Welcome to” signs to recap the many places he’ll visit on the trip.

As Hanson and the other participants make their way across the country and see the likes of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Hollywood, they will also visit other DD agencies to share the kids coaching philosophy and encourage them to create programs similar to People Inc.’s Guys Group. The agencies they plan to visit are Bethesda Lutheran Communities in Fort Collins, Colorado; Opportunity Village in Las Vegas, Nevada; TERI Inc. in Oceanside, California; and New Horizons in San Fernando Valley, California. 

This trip is the first sponsored trip of its kind for People Inc. Their journey can be followed in real time on the Facebook page “Crossing Borders WNY.” The trip will be documented on film and combined with footage of the group preparing for the journey.

People Inc. is a not-for-profit health and human services agency providing programs and services to more than 12,000 people with special needs, their families and seniors throughout Western New York. Since 1971, People Inc. has assisted individuals to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity.