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Local Program Offers Independence For Young Adults With Disabilities

(credit: Cherri Gregg)

(credit: Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--A Narberth-based program gives young adults with disabilities an alternative to living at home or in a facility.

At 22, Josh Shusterman didn’t let cerebral palsy keep him from going to college but it did keep him from the social scene.

“At college I felt isolated, a lot of the kids smoked and things like that. So I felt alone.”

This past May, he joined the Philadelphia Independence Network or PIN program. And now, he has friends, volunteers and is working toward independence.

“I really enjoy it because we do all types of programs, Monday through Thursday. We get to cook and I love free meals.”

“At 21, it’s no more school services, no more IEPs, no more counselors or all that. You are considered an adult,” says Marnisha Henry. She’s the program director for the two-year-old program and says students have CP, autism and a variety of other disabilities.

“In most schools there’s not a lot of emphasis on preparing people to be independent,” she says.

Henry says many of the program’s attendees are extremely gifted intellectually, but lack the ability to take care of themselves at home.

PIN teaches its students social graces, how to pay bills, cook, run their own home and get a job.

“Time management is something else we work on,” says Henry, “Making your own medical appointments, things other kids may learn when they’re in their late teens.”

“Growing up, school was never really a good thing for her, she didn’t have a good experience with friends,” says Kaitlyn Buckley, whose 23-year-old sister enrolled in PIN last May and has blossomed.

“She goes out with her friends more than I do,” laughs Buckley.

PIN costs about $7,000 a year and is not covered by most insurance companies.

For more information about PIN, which is a program of JEVS Human Services, go to jevshumanservices.org.