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PathWays: Fostering Independence and Fulfilling Dreams

By Kevin Brown

From its beginnings nearly 60 years ago in Washington County, PathWays today helps individuals in six southwestern Pennsylvania counties live independently and fulfill their dreams.

Originally chartered as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Washington County in 1964, the organization now known as PathWays continued to grow over the years to serve a broad range of individuals with disabilities. In 2009, PathWays was formed from UCP and today serves 1,600 individuals in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

PathWays operates a number of distinct programs serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism, along with their families. Their mission is summed up as lifelong fulfillment, helping individuals attain independence and reach their dreams.

Under its Children’s Services, PathWays offers Early Intervention Services to help children with developmental delays or diagnosed conditions reach their fullest potential. These strategies, provided at no cost in the home, are highly individualized and designed to enhance each child’s learning and growing experiences.

PathWays also operates Rainbow’s End Learning Centers, which are full-service day care centers for children of all abilities, providing educational supports as well as social and emotional skill-building in a safe, secure, and welcoming environment. Over the past 28 years, Rainbow’s End Learning Centers have grown from a one-room day care of mixed age groups to two locations with 11 different classrooms.

Your Child's Place, the third of the children’s services offered by PathWays, is a specialized, pediatric child-care center for infants and children who need skilled nursing care while their parents or caregivers are at work or school. Staffed by registered nurses and child-care professionals, Your Child's Place is equipped to handle conditions that require constant or periodic medical treatment and the use of medical devices.

PathWays’ adult services includes the Adult Training Facility (ATF). The ATF helps individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism contribute their talents to the community and enhance social, physical, emotional, and life skills. ATF offers a program called the Work of Heart where individuals learn job-related skills to help them build their employable skills, like problem solving.

Individuals at the Washington County ATF location volunteer for organizations such as the Meals-On-Wheels program, Washington County Food Bank, Christian Outreach, and others. At the Greene County ATF location, individuals volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program and Direct Results.

PathWays offers a residential program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism to live a more fulfilling life. Its origin dates to 1975 with their first group home and now includes 11 homes in three counties. The residential program operates three distinct services: Licensed Community Homes, Supported Living and HUD Homes.

Licensed Community Homes allow individuals to live independently with 24-hour support staff who offer them a path toward what is essential and important in their life.

Supported Living offers a bridge between around-the-clock supports and independent living. It is a choice for an individual who lives in their own home or apartment and desires some assistance in their life.

HUD Homes are fully handicapped-accessible homes that offer safety and comfort to people of all abilities.

Those in the residential homes are supported by professional staff who help them live independently.

Many residents not only receive housing services from PathWays, but also participate in PathWays’ training programs during the day.

Rounding out PathWays’ services, Agency With Choice offers several community-based services that allow individuals to achieve more independence and live fulfilling lives. This includes options such as companion services, in-home and community supports, homemaker/chore services, supported employment opportunities, and more.

PathWays truly touches lives with their services and strives to help each individual live to their fullest potential. Their success is best described on their website: “At the end of the day, our true measure of success is seeing the pride and confidence we build in the people we serve.”

If you would like more information about PathWays’ services, employment opportunities, or making a donation, please visit their website at www.yourpathways.org or call (724) 229-0851.

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