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Community Support Services opens new academy

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 4:03 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
CSS participant Collette Blue learns a new recipe for a summer pasta salad from Jeri Budwick, CSS Academy’s new cooking instructor. Budwick is the owner of Smooches Café, with 8 locations in Chicago Park District facilities.

BROOKFIELD – Community Support Services opened a new integrated learning center last week that will provide people with disabilities a range of classes similar to what a park district might offer.

The CSS Academy, located at 3732 Grand Blvd., is housed in a renovated 4,000-square-foot facility containing two classrooms separated by a soundproof wall. The academy is the first of its kind for CSS, which serves more than 700 individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families. CSS clients live in 57 communities in western Cook and eastern DuPage counties.

"For our current clients, it's going to be a great place to go after they've finished high school,” said Michelle Jimenez, CSS’ vice president of development and marketing. “It's really targeted at age 22 or higher for individuals with disabilities who want continuous learning after they finish high school."

A few of the classes offered include Acting 101, Baseball for Beginners, Computer Basics, Interview Training, Sewing 101 and Latin Energy Zumba. A couple classes, such as cooking and art, are currently offered by CSS, but most of them are new, with new instructors being hired to teach them. Although CSS serves people with disabilities, the classes will be open to all people.

“[They will] help individuals realize the abilities of people with disabilities,” Jimenez said.

A survey of CSS clients’ families indicated there was a void in activities for clients age 22 and older, which led to the creation of the academy.

"Once they are done with high school, if they're not working, it can be a very lonely time of trying to fill the days,” Jimenez said.

Fees from classes will also allow CSS to move toward becoming a for-profit organization at some point, Jimenez said.

CSS hopes to offer about 30 classes per week and is currently accepting registrations, with classes expected to start Aug. 12. Go to www.CSSservices.org or call 708-354-4547 to register or for more information.

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