The Horizons School provides a community-based educational program promoting successful transition to independent living for young adults with learning disabilities, autism spectrum and developmental disorders.
Phil Klebine* came by to speak with Horizons students about his experiences living life with a disability, to give students advice and answer their questions. Phil began by talking about his disability. He was paralyzed from the chest down due to a C-5 spinal injury as a result of a car crash when he was 18 years old. Since that time, he has learned how to take control of his life, which is how he defines independence.
“You’re going to have setbacks along the way whether you have a disability or not,” he said. “It’s okay to fail; that’s how you learn about yourself and what you can do.” Phil referenced how he applied and interviewed for numerous jobs before someone gave him a chance.
“Pat yourself on the back occasionally – when you reach a goal or overcome a setback.”
According to Phil, college and post-secondary programs are about “sticking it out.” You have to have the motivation to do something. Finding purpose and meaning in life will give you the motivation you need to overcome obstacles along the way.
A key piece of advice he imparted to our students was in regards to the concept of independence. Some mistakenly believe that it means doing or being able to do everything for yourself. Phil disagrees. Independence is more about being in control of you life. You should know when to ask for help and what resources are available to you.
“Everyone needs help sometimes; never be afraid to ask for help”
*Phil is the Knowledge Translation Director for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) School of Medicine. He started off as a client of Disability Rights and Resources and now sits on their Board of Directors.
Students with the Hearts of Horizons Civitan Service Club collected 224 pounds of canned and dry foods and $370 for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama earlier this month.
The club is part of The Horizons School, which prepares young adults with learning difficulties for an independent life. The school partnered with Civitan International, a Birmingham based organization of volunteer service clubs, to establish the Horizons Civitan Service Club earlier this year. There are about 21 student members and five staff members.
On November 16th faculty, students and board members met to thank the Independent Presbyterian Church for their generous donation allowing us to build our state of the art Career Resource Center. Students utilize this space to practice their job readiness skills, apply for positions in the community and participate in their Business Communications classes. We are so thankful for this community supporter and partner!
This award recognizes one special student who has earned distinction over a period of two academic years. It is difficult for faculty and staff to select only one deserving student. The recipient of this award has demonstrated extraordinary personal growth and advancement across the curriculum.
This year’s recipient, Devin Orkin, receives praise from his worksite supervisor and faculty for dependability, kindness and willingness to help others. Devin shows courage when accepting challenges to enhance his level of adult independence. For instance, he readily greets visitors to our school, helping them to feel comfortable.
Devin agreed to be interviewed by local media promoting our school fundraiser, not an easy task to be featured on a live morning newscast! He was elected to the position of President of Hearts of Horizons, our student service organization. Devin helps to organize students and plan service activities benefiting the community.
His faculty advisor, Mr. Carter, wrote, “Devin has improved in so many areas–the most important of which is self confidence…Devin has grown so much more comfortable in his skin than he was the first day I met him. He is proud of what he has learned, acknowledges his shortcomings, and accepts responsibility for himself and his future like an adult should.“
Congratulations to our 2017 Student of the Year – Devin Orkin!