Disability Issues

CSS Academy integrates learning for all abilities

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Chicago-area disabled organization opened a community center that offers integrated programs for people with and without disabilities.

For CSS, or Community Support Services Inc., this is a new concept for them and one they want to succeed.

Located in downtown Brookfield, CSS Academy is a continuing education initiative that offers classes ranging from act to cooking and more.

"We have about 35 classes right now on our course catalog that we're offering to the community and to the population that we serve," said Necole Mills, director. "All of the instructors are paid instructors, and they make their curriculum."

"It's a registration process. It would function similar to a recreation or a park district. Our catalogue has our registration forms on them, our website as well," Necole said. "Our age groups that we targeting are kids from 5 to adults and seniors. It's limitless because we have classes that target each one of these groups."

CSS President and CEO Diane Farina White says this is a newer concept of meeting the needs of the community.

"Day programs and sheltered workshops are becoming more obsolete, and the state's philosophy is really in the community meeting community needs," Diane said. "Opening it up to also people with and without disabilities is a very important step in being innovative and creative and inclusive."

CSS Academy has only been open a few months.

"We have a lot of growth to do this year to see the opportunities for expansion, but I would say, yes, a pilot program. It'd be great to expand programs into some of the other communities we serve in Chicagoland," Diane said.

"What makes it so beautiful: This is a collaborative environment. It was our hope that we could get the community and this population to learn together cause the focus is not about the disability. It's truly about the abilities," said Necole.

If you are interested in taking classes at CSS Academy, you can go to their website www.cssservices.org.

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