Functional Independent Living In recent years, Variety has developed a strong focus on workforce development for young adults, ages 14-21, with disabilities, but one of the missing pieces in our services has been the ability to provide life skills programming to help our population prepare to build a home life and live independently. Variety’s newest Functional Independent Living program aims to help individuals gain the necessary skills needed for independence in all aspects of their daily lives. To launch this program, Variety converted a cabin into a studio apartment to simulate a real-life living situation. The space resembles what the participant would have their disposal; in other words it is modeled after what an affordable studio apartment would actually look like. The “studio apartment” is sectioned off into different rooms, as any apartment would be, in order for the individual to be able to experience all aspects of daily life as they would in a real life setting. The curriculum for the program covers a multitude of topics, including health maintenance and nutrition, household chores, good hygiene practices, financial management, and relationships. The last cohort spent a week specifically working on meal prep, food storage, nutrition and hygiene in the kitchen and around food—they loved it! The program takes into account what the participant wants to learn and their desired level of independence. One parent reported that after 6 weeks in the program their child was independently engaging at home in household chores that he used to have to be verbally prompted repeatedly to do, such as cleaning up after meals and taking an initiative to clean his bedroom and living spaces. Accountability and initiative are major parts of independent living, so this was exactly the kind of feedback that we hoped to hear! The biggest takeaway from our Functional Independent Living program is that the skills we are teaching are ones that so many of us take for granted everyday—and we want to provide the opportunity for our population to learn these skills in a mock learning environment to enhance their everyday life. The next cohort for Variety’s Functional Independent Living program is beginning soon. Please contact Nick Larcinese at Nicholas.Larcinese@varietyphila.org for more information. Read our refund policy here.