Minnehaha Academy students learn from community members with disabilities

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As part of a weeklong “core formation experience,” some Minneapolis students are getting out into the community and connecting with groups they may otherwise not get a chance to learn from, like people who have disabilities.

Students at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis recently teamed up with the Twin Cities organization Living Well Disability Services, a nonprofit that empowers and cares for people with disabilities.

“I think it’s just as important as learning in the classroom. I think it gets you excited and ready to interact with the real world,” said Sophie Vandercook, Minnehaha Academy sophomore.

Thursday, Cindy Erickson and her housemates — residents of a house owned and operated by Living Well Disability Services — welcomed students from Minnehaha Academy to their Mendota Heights home.

“I’m off today and doing crafts and everything,” Erickson said.

The students and those with Living Well participated in arts and crafts and sang along to a movie. Organizers of the partnership believe it’s a chance for those involved to connect and embrace differences.

“We’re here to share in their lives and make sure they have the support and access that they need,” said Tom Gillespie, President and CEO of Living Well Disability Services.

“Especially coming out of the pandemic, where the world really shrunk in on us very quickly as a disability community, so to see that opening up, to see not only us getting back out in the world but the world coming back in and partnering in our homes, it means so much to us.”

Living Well Disability Services serves about 300 people with disabilities all around the metro in 36 different homes.

“I’ve had a blast just talking to the people,” Sophie Vandercook said.

Click here for more information on Living Well Disability Services.