It's back to school at the Lionsgate Academy…
a Minnesota public charter school serving students from 7th grade through age 21 on three campuses around the Twin Cities. The school's programs are inclusively designed to meet the unique needs of young people on the autism spectrum. Their programs also benefit students without disabilities, and those with disabilities other than autism.
Autism is a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There is not one autism but many types; the term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person. Read more about autism at the website of Autism Speaks.
The mission of Lionsgate is to foster self-determination by providing a transition-focused, personalized-learning program for all students, specializing in educating students with autism. The goal for graduates is that they will, to the fullest extent possible, move on to further education or gainful employment, live independently, and have meaningful relationships with others.
One way Lionsgate helps students is through the AIM Program (Achieving Independence & Maturity) which serves young adults ages 18–21 in three areas of transition: employment, post-secondary education, and skills of daily living. The AIM Program is a state-approved, transitions program where students work or volunteer in the community – including at Hampden Park Co-op. Twice a week during the school term, 3–4 students from the North Saint Paul campus help out at the co-op by bagging, weighing and pricing bulk foods to help them gain experience in the food preparation industry. One student who participated at HPC, Chris Tucker, was recognized as an AIM Employee of the Month, and was employed here on staff for the last two summers!
A graduate of Lionsgate once related autism to a piece of Swiss cheese, “There are holes in the way our brains work. Some areas are solid and you are very skilled and knowledgeable, while others are just not there.” Your roundup at the register is a small way to help students fill those holes, and help them to find a place to belong in their community.
Read more about Lionsgate Academy on their website.
Thanks to Lionsgate Academy for the photographs!