September 27, 2012
I had heard about New Directions for many years as I worked as a social worker with individuals with special needs and their families. All my clients had great things to say about the agency: how they offered scholarships so anyone could travel, how amazing their Holiday Happiness Christmas events were, how much the trips meant to them. I wanted to volunteer after I retired and I was hooked after being a tour guide on my first trip. This agency believes strongly that everyone has a right to travel as an important component of a rich, happy life. Even if the travelers are in wheelchairs, require total care in their activities of daily living or have challenging behaviors New Directions provides them the help they need to experience the world. Their travelers go to Disneyland and seeing their joy at getting a hug from Mickey or Donald is great. They have been to theme parks all over the country, to national Parks, to the NASA space center, to see the glaciers of Alaska, to cruise the Mexican waters., to see waterfalls, swim with dolphins, gape at the wonders of the world. Wherever tourists flock, New Directions is there making the experience possible for individuals with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilitities. I really enjoy travelling with one young woman who is only 23, mildly developmentally delayed, and blind. She takes anti-depressants and I told her half-jokingly "You are such a fun, upbeat person..I want what you take!!" "Oh no," she explained,"I am only happy when I am on a trip. When I am in my group home I cant even go out to a local swimming pool or to the movies, there is no one who cares to take me." I hope New Directions will always be there to give her and our other travelers the happiness they deserve.
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