Independent Living Skills
Our overarching goal at Dragonfly is to support students in a sustainable and meaningful life path. A core aspect of sustainability of healthy living is ensuring our students have the opportunity to work on developing independent living skills. Each of our students comes to us with different competencies with independent living skills. Our mentors, therapists, vocational and educational coordinators work together with each student to assess strengths and weaknesses and to create a plan that is individualized to each student’s needs. Some core independent living skills involved learning to manage nutrition, housing, vocation and community.
Nutrition and Wellness
One of the first areas of focus is on how to plan and prepare healthy meals and practicing a balanced diet. On our Klamath Falls campus, students shop individually and cook meals for themselves. On our Ashland and Homestead campuses, our student eat family style meals. Weekly meals are planned and budgeted for the whole campus. Students on the Homestead have the additional option of utilizing farm fresh produce in their meals.
Exercise and fitness is another healthy habit that students are encouraged to engage in. While COVID has paused daily trips to the gym, students and mentors continue to find ways to stay active including hikes, bike rides, walking around town and playing basketball.
Students also have the opportunity to practice caring for their living spaces inside and out. They are encouraged to learn about building and property care by engaging in a variety of projects and learning opportunities such as trouble shooting a lawnmower that won’t start, learning about seasonal lawn care, learning about plumbing and other projects that arise. Students are encouraged to tap into projects that interest them and many take on legacy projects such as building raised garden beds, installing a patio, murals and other projects that leave a lasting mark.
Students also develop communication and teamwork as they rotate household chores and learn how to navigate communication with housemates to ensure the house is cared for. Weekly laundry and weekly deep clean are also worked into the students’ weekly schedule. Learning to navigate a laundry mat and to form a habit of doing laundry helps set students up for success in managing their laundry once they are living independently.
As students move through the Dragonfly program, our vocational coordinator and mentors work with them to help them develop their resumes, identify job opportunities that fit with their skill set, connect with community resources. Internships as well as paid positions are important to developing a marketable resume. Students are encouraged to identify their interests and long-term career goals. These are important to keep in mind when pursuing jobs and education.
In each of these areas of living skills, Dragonfly’s students are navigating within a community and learning interpersonal skills. Students offer each other feedback, negotiate chore assignments with house mates, advocate for their needs and plan outings within this community. As a community, Dragonfly staff and students explore nutritional balance, living spaces, vocational goals and community connection.
Written By: Sarah Walker, Homestead Coordinator
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