By Sydnee Schwartz, Contributing Writer
Students at the First Place Transition Academy have been learning a lot since they moved in. They are finding the importance in knowing how to balance jobs, school and free time, as well as adjust to living independently. They have also been focusing on three main areas of independence and adulthood: developing friendships, meal planning and taking care of their space.
Developing strong friendships is an important aspect of adulthood. The students at First Place take a course at GateWay Community College to help them with the fundamental tools of bonding with peers in their everyday lives. “The most important thing I learned was that friendships are a process,” said student Jake, “you want to work slow, see their interests, and find out if they would make a good friend for you.” Many of the students have already applied these tools to their classmates and neighbors, and have created budding friendships. “I enjoy hanging out with my neighbors and friends. It helps create a good community to be around,” Jake added.
Students have also learned things like making a menu, planning and shopping for meals, cooking new foods, and the importance of budgeting. Many of the residents enjoy cooking and enjoy the process and independence that comes along with making your own meal. It’s been an adjustment for them to figure out what meal they want, budget for the ingredients, and prepare it on their own, but they are handling the task well. New resident Max said his cooking is still a work in progress, but he hopes to learn to make foods like enchiladas and pastas.
Another important focus is apartment maintenance. Fridays are cleaning days, and the students are expected to divide cleaning responsibilities with their roommate to keep their space nice and clean. “Learning the importance of cleaning has been a good experience,” said current student Josh. Many of the students find cleaning to be easy and see the benefit in a clean space, but had trouble adjusting to task. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but overall, I like the independence,” Josh’s roommate Jake said.
The students here are really enjoying their adulthood and the community they are involved in. “Living at First Place has been good,” Josh said, “I feel like I will be able to apply what I learn here to my life when I am done with the program.” The students like the environment they are in; they feel safe, they are forming strong friendships, and they are confident that the skills they are learning now will help them succeed.