Julia’s Community

Have you ever dreamt about an inclusive community for your adult child with Down syndrome, a place where they could not just live, work and learn, but truly belong?

Recently, GiGi’s Playhouse Charlotte hit the road and met some very forward-thinking people from a new nonprofit called Julia’s Community who are trying to make a dream like this a reality for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities (IDD). Bob and Lori Spence started the nonprofit in honor of their daughter, Julia, who lives with cerebral palsy and loves to go fast in her wheelchair and explore wherever she happens to be. Their grand vision has found a home right on the campus of Wingate University, located about 40 minutes from Charlotte near the city of Monroe, NC.  

Board member Eileen Walsh-Miot (right) and her daughter Marie-Claire, age 16, learned firsthand about some very exciting new post-secondary educational, recreational and independent living options for people with IDD that are coming to the campus.  The university is an eager partner in developing these programs with Julia’s Community; visit the Julia’s website to learn more. 

Eileen spoke with Michelle Lancaster (second from right), the executive director of Julia’s Community, and Dr. Melanie Keel (far left), the director of Wingate Forward, a new two-year program starting at the university this fall for people with IDD as part of its collaboration with Julia’s Community. It’s a non-degree-granting program that will pair students with peer mentors and other supports so they can be included in general education classes at the university.

We can’t wait to see what else Julia’s Community and Wingate have in store for adults with intellectual disabilities and we are exploring how we can partner with them and with the university students! 

#gigisplayhousecharlotte #juliascommunity #wingateuniversity#inclusionforlife #lifelonglearners #liveworkplay #bestofall

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