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WCPL opens location for neurodiverse population

From Molly Swietek
LifeWorks at WKU

Bowling Green, KY - The Warren County Public Library is pleased to announce the opening of a satellite location at LifeWorks at WKU, a transition-to-independent living and employment program for autistic young adults.

"This is the only satellite location dedicated to the neurodiverse population in the entire state of Kentucky," said WCPL Director Courtney Stevens. "We strive to provide everyone in the community with access to information and resources relevant to their needs. Partnering with LifeWorks allows us to directly enrich the lives of autistic young adults in our area."

The satellite location is a fully functional library offering books, DVDs, audiobooks, and online resources, including access to streaming apps.

The full-time librarian and special populations liaison, Earl Willis, has been a WCPL staff member for 20 years.

"We are extremely fortunate to have this satellite location at LifeWorks and grateful for such an experienced librarian," said David Wheeler, executive director at LifeWorks. "He not only provides guidance on how to use the library but also teaches our participants personal development skills. He is such an asset to our program, which is focused on supporting and empowering young adults on the spectrum to become more independent and self-sufficient."

Willis also hosts a social hour every week and established a book club / discussion group with the LifeWorks participants. "What is different about our book club is that we all don't read the same book," said Willis. "Everyone gets to read whatever they want and then discuss it with the group, so it's informational as well as fun."

Finding ways to meaningfully partner with LifeWorks was an important goal for WCPL. Modeled after the HOTEL Inc. satellite location, the LifeWorks location is designed to make resources more available and accessible to the participants living on the LifeWorks campus.

"Being a part of the community means meeting the community where they are," said Stevens. "The LifeWorks program is not only special to our region, but it is the only living and learning program for autistic young adults in the state. We could not think of a better way to support this program than to become a part of it."

For the time being, as the satellite location works to expand its materials and resources, it will only serve those participating in the LifeWorks program with plans to quickly expand access to clients of the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex at WKU.

LifeWorks, a non-profit living and learning community, is an extension of the lifespan of services provided by the CEC. For nearly 20 years, the CEC has provided services for individuals and families impacted by autism and other neurodiversities. The programs at the CEC are available for individuals 12 months old through college-age, while LifeWorks supports young adults on the spectrum (ages 21-30).

The LifeWorks Transition Academy is a two-year transition-to-work and independent living program for young adults on the spectrum. LifeWorks provides the instruction and practice necessary to equip its participants with the tools to obtain gainful employment and succeed in living on their own.

This story was posted on 2023-05-24 09:14:53
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