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Strive: Helping young adults with disabilities

SOUTH PORTLAND (WGME) -- Parents of special needs young adults are sometimes forced to quit work to take care of their son or daughter who's no longer in high school, and have no place to go during the day.

Now, a program called Next Step in South Portland is helping families and it's not just good for special needs families, it may also be good for your community.

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"It's a multifaceted program that allows people to have a place to go during the day," said program director, Pete Brown.

Participants learn things like cooking, creating a budget and using a computer.

The program grew out of a need for parents, like Lisa Sheirs, who wanted a place for her son, Cole, while he was on the wait list for a state program, which took nearly two years.

"Everyday he comes home and does something new," said Sheirs.

Shirley Storey-King says Next Step is transforming.

"Josh has a life.  He would have been a great couch potato," Storey-King said.

Next Step kept her from having to quit her job to care for her son after he graduated high school.

"To pay for a private program similar to Next Step would be $20 an hour," Story-King said.  "I don't have $160 a day to pay for my son to go a private program."

The idea is to make productive citizens out of this too often overlooked group.

"One of the goals for individuals in our program is to be a part of their community, rather than just being dependent on it," said Brown.

Next Step is part of the Strive Organization dedicated to helping teens and young adults with developmental disabilities move toward independence.  Brown says Next Step is funded entirely by the families who attend, and donations.

Next Step is one of the programs that will benefit from the money raised at the all-night Strive Rocks Dance Marathon next weekend.

It's set at the Maine Mall on Saturday March 1st and Sunday March 2nd.