Chicago Urban Farm Supports Autistic Students in Developing Life Skills

Something you can’t educate grows in Chicago‘s shadow.

East County Gazette highlights a programme that teaches life skills to disabled youth.

A 1.5-acre farm is a hidden treasure in a concrete jungle. It’s not just any farm.

Six autistic and other intellectually challenged youngsters are taught life skills.

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“Nobody comes to the farm with a tonne of experience or any experience, but everyone is in the mud, sweating, or freezing together,” said Heather Tarczan.

Tarczan directs the Illinois Medical District’s Growing Solutions Farm.

“It helps build self-esteem, confidence, and work skills,” Tarczan added. Urban Autism Solutions’ 10-year-old programme is celebrating.

Special education teachers take students like 18-year-old Melissa Roman to the farm.
“They get to be outdoors, more autonomous, and we generalise classroom skills,” says Roman teacher Tim Makowski at the Ray Graham Association.

Roman enjoys gathering fruits and vegetables outdoors. The youngsters attend five West Side schools and live in dangerous areas.

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Makowski: “It helps people come out of their shell.” In the warmer months, kids sell their food to local restaurants and at a farm stand.

Roman: “People adore buying here.” “They like seeing clients purchase the goods they grow,” Tarczan added.

Urban Autism Solutions teaches disabled children vocational and life skills. They’ve helped over 1,000 teens.

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