To create and promote inspirational learning environments for young adults with complex disabilities.
How We Got Here
A year before Christopher’s high school graduation, Nora and Tom Carroll began what they thought would be an easy search for an after high school program that was able to accommodate their son Christopher and his needs. Christopher has Cerebral Palsy, is non-verbal, is legally blind and deaf, has a swallowing disorder and physical limitations. Nora and Tom quickly realized this was anything but an easy task. As working parents, they were scrambling to find a nurturing environment for Christopher right after graduation so Christopher started attending a small day program 20 miles from home that was safe and had a passionate program director. After touring their two other children through the college selection process, Nora realized that Christopher didn’t have the same opportunity to select a place with the right “vibe” for him and his needs as his brother and sister had. Although Christopher loved the daily drive each morning and seeing his friends from age 20-80 years old each day, the minimal activities and one small classroom setting didn’t create an environment where a young adult can thrive nor did it allow him to freely express himself without raising an eyebrow. In August, after a 15 year waitlist, a new waiver slot became available that was supposed to provide more options for Christopher. Much to their disappointment, lack of openings for clients with significant needs like Christopher’s continued to limit his participation in the right program for a young adult. As Nora continued to search for other options, the only answer she consistently heard is that there is a lack of programs for individuals with significant needs. After being rejected from several local day programs, Nora knew that there was a strong need in the community to provide support for individuals with significant needs like Christopher and in 2020 that reality became Nest Academy RVA. Nora has taken her work experience, passion as a mother and her desire to help others to create a community program that allows these young adults to thrive and be an active part of the Richmond community through educational, physical and interactive fun activities.