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Paraquad, Inc.

79 Employees | 51 Years

Paraquad, Inc.

Mission Statement

Paraquad champions equity and independence for people with disabilities through services, partnerships, education, and advocacy.

Impact

Lived experience is the personal knowledge gained through direct, first-hand involvement, and the contributions of those who live with a disability are key to the principle that governs Centers for Independent Living, “Nothing about us, without us.” Founded in 1970, Paraquad officially became a Center for Independent Living (CIL) in 1979. CILs are community-based, cross-disability, nonprofit organizations led by people with disabilities. They provide five core services to address the needs of people with disabilities: information and referral, peer support, independent living skills training, transition services (both from nursing homes to independent living and from youth to adulthood), and advocacy. Paraquad has implemented additional programs, such as Youth and Family Services, Continuing Education for individuals with developmental disabilities, employment services, and health and wellness programs, to create one of the most robust CILs in the country.
Through our advocacy, St. Louis became one of the first cities in the nation to put wheelchair lifts on buses and curb cuts in sidewalks. We also advocated for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the creation of Missouri’s Consumer Directed Services program, which enabled people with disabilities to hire their own caregivers and direct their own care.

Working with the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, we have been awarded grants for programs for our young adults under the age of 18, with programming to assist them with resources and training to live independently and socialize with others their age. These grants have allowed us to offer the following during the academic year:

  • Educational advocacy and support
  • Youth Group
  • Charting the LifeCourse, a program offering tools for youth-to-adult transition to identify budgeting, transportation and living options, benefits counseling, and exploration of educational and career options
  • A middle-to-high school transition workshop for youth and parents to identify goals and support needs for a successful high school experience
  • A workshop for high school juniors and seniors with cognitive disabilities who are considering post-secondary education
  • An employment transition program for youth to identify possible careers, create resumes, and develop job application and interview skills.
  • A paid Summer Work program (SWEP) to gain experience in a field of interest and build the soft skills needed to be successfully employed.
  • A Healthy Relationships curriculum to learn the communication and decision-making skills needed to navigate relationships, avoid exploitation, and make responsible decisions about sexual behavior
  • Summer Blast, a week-long program targeted separately to middle school and high school youth that encourages community integration and the development of social skills