Remember when you moved out of your parents’ house for the first time? Maybe you moved into a dorm room at college…or perhaps your own apartment…condo…house? Wherever you moved, it was your own home. You probably felt nervous and apprehensive when you first moved out on your own, but WOW, wasn’t the newfound independence just awesome?!?
Meet Janet Childress. Janet has been with The Enrichment Center since its beginning in 1983. She’s very proud to say she was our first “wheelchair” participant. You see, Janet has been wheelchair-bound all her life. But that hasn’t kept her from getting around, because Janet has an intense desire to follow her heart and live her dreams. And one of her lifetime dreams – moving from her parents’ house to her own home – became a reality this year.
Janet started attending The Enrichment Center after she graduated from South Park High School (now Carter High), where one of the school’s themes – Moving Up, Moving On, and Moving Out – was particularly resonant. In her early years at The Enrichment Center, Janet helped with fundraising and recruiting participants. One of her favorite things to do was give tours, which she still enjoys today.
Over the years, some of the classes she’s loved the most include photography, pottery and fused glass. Her many and varied experiences at The Enrichment Center – including work as a volunteer at the SECU Family House and the YMCA – helped to boost Janet’s confidence. She became a passionate self-advocate, and her dream of moving “out on her own” grew stronger and stronger. As her parents warmed to the idea, Janet was more excited than ever.
Finally this fall, Janet moved from her parents’ house to a group home, joining a couple of friends she has known for many years – both in wheelchairs, too. The group home has a new transport van, perfect for getting around. Janet is glad to live with people her own age with similar life experiences, and is excited to participate in a variety of fun outings and special activities. In fact, she’s traveling to the beach this spring for her first trip out of town without mom and dad. When asked about her new place, Janet simply says, “I love it. I’m thankful I’m in it. It helps me be more independent.”
On Christmas Day, Janet will join her sisters, niece and nephews as they gather to celebrate at her parents’ house. This year, Janet is doing her own shopping, without assistance from her mom, so she can buy her parents a special gift all on her own. And, after a day filled with family fun and holiday traditions, Janet will return to her own home. Because, truly, there’s no place like home!