WHO WE ARE
The Full Life Ahead Foundation exists to “infect” individuals with disAbilities and their families and communities with Hope. The hope to live the life of their choice. Hope to dream and to use your own unique gifts to succeed. We find ways through our HOPE network to open doors of opportunity to live and work in your own community making it possible to live a life that is FULL of choices!
Our organization began with the publication of “a book”, “Full Life Ahead, A Workbook and Guide to Adult Life for Students with disAbilities and Their Families”. Judy Barclay and Jan Cobb are co-authors of this workbook. The Office of Special Education Programs in Washington, D.C . worked with them to vet the book to make it available for use across the United States.
The passion for writing the book was to create a venue to share information and knowledge that we struggled to gain through our experiences to help others as they begin their journeys of creating and accomplishing their own hopes, dreams and great expectations.
As parents of children with disAbilities, we understand the daily challenges and frustrations that never go away, the seemingly simple tasks which become monumental, the feeling of No Control and hearing the words “No, they can’t” and “Never” over and over again.
We have been through the systems: school, extra-curricular and employment. This book contains all the information we wish we had known. It is based on knowledge and expertise we have gained through personal and professional experience. Helping an individual, a family, school or community assist a young person with a disAbility go from where they are to where they “want to be in life” is a step by step process. Life is not about what someone can give you; it is about what you can achieve yourself. Through our HOPE Network, we are able to work with individuals and organizations to achieve great success.
Today, the workbooks are shipped all over the country to school systems, organizations, individuals with disAbilities, families, agencies, etc. We hold Hope Training Conferences, seminars, and provide support and technical assistance through and with a well developed web of contacts in Alabama and throughout the country. Within Alabama, we act as an agency making our services available for free or at a reduced cost. Outside the state we require that support to come from entities (school systems, other individuals and organizations) with which we contract so that we preserve our donations for what we do in Alabama.
The Full Life Ahead Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization which was formed in May of 2002 for the purpose of assisting students with disAbilities and their families in planning and achieving a Full Life after high school.
WHAT WE DO
THERE IS AN ACHIEVEMENT PROCESS WHICH GENERATES AMAZING RESULTS:
HOPE: Our experience is that NOTHING happens without HOPE. Among all of the day to day duties and must do’s, the time to HOPE seems to be pushed out and minimized. Hope is a hard thing to do when you have a DISability. Everyone is always looking at the DIS–. We know what is possible because we have seen what is possible! When an individual or their parents and community have HOPE, they can…
DREAM: What is the future about? Is it about what people are comfortable with me doing or is it about what I DREAM to do? People with disAbilities have dreams for the future that need to be nurtured. When DREAMS are created, it is time to start…
PLANNING: That’s right! Individuals with disAbilities can create a LIFE PLAN. How will they ever know the road until they know the destination? What are the supports that are necessary to achieve the Dream? Look around and find a…
COMMUNITY: The community many times would like to help but doesn’t know how. And there aren’t many handbooks (other than ours) that tell a person with a disAbility how to find and nurture that support in a community and put it into the action plan.
ACTION: which lead to ACHIEVEMENT. Achievement is a huge step in the process because it gives an individual with a disAbility, their family, teachers, community and service providers HOPE; and HOPE breeds a bigger dream… and the process starts all over again.
A person with a disAbility achieves a DREAM, but it is so much more, than that. The entire community receives and is enriched by the DREAMS that are achieved then the DREAMS become much larger!
Positive change impacts the lives of the individuals with disAbilities and we have witnessed this over and over again! Through our interactive workshop trainings (whether it is a couple of hours, a day or a weekend work session) and through our one on one technical assistance lives are impacted.
Students, families, and service providers explore every aspect of adult life which must be understood, addressed and mastered to be able to live as independently as possible. When the members of the HOPE in action team gather together in an informal setting, an atmosphere of freedom is created. Each person is able to explore and interact with one another to create that positive INFECTION of HOPE we need so desperately!
Our passion is to provide families with the tools they need to Create a Future for themselves and their children which results in flexibility and freedom for all.
HOW WE DO IT
Throughout the year, we hold at least three overnight weekend workshop retreats at Children’s Harbor Lodge near Alexander City, Alabama and other locations throughout the State of Alabama. We present at schools, conferences, and other settings at no charge around the state and nation. For the two-day, overnight trainings, we charge a small fee to get the families and individuals to “buy into” the weekend and process.
We collaborate with AL-APSE annually to co-host a statewide employment conference each year. During this conference topics of training will include a variety of Employment issues such as (Customized, Supported Employment, Self Employment and Entrepreneurship including the use of Social Security Work Incentives). During the three day, two night, conference, we offer 3 concurrent individual and family tracks covering life planning, employment, and community involvement—a map for achievement!
Our goal is to change the systems through collaboration with many of our existing Hope Network and new members we will come to know (such as educators, Vocational Rehabilitation, medical professionals, job coaches, the community in general, etc)!
We want to give families HOPE along with the tools they will need to make change happen for them. Full Life Ahead always has our “hand picked” professionals available at our workshops…the ones with a heart for the individuals and families…the ones who are willing to invest their personal time and space to help individuals achieve results!
These are just a few of the activities we continue to involve ourselves in order to impact and change the course of lives for individuals who might not otherwise take those first steps.
GRANTS AND FUNDRAISING
We have received grants from many local foundations in the state allowing us to create and hold trainings, provide follow up and technical assistance, print books, get information out in written format and so much more.
We need resources to bring the kind of hope and expectation into Alabama that is infectious! When we do this, we ALL win. Our belief is that every person with a disAbility should have the opportunity to choose to live and work in, contribute to and enjoy their community, achieving as independent a life as possible.