After high school, Madison, who has optic nerve hypoplasia, decided to continue living at home while she attended her local community college. Living in a small town with limited public transportation meant she had to depend on the kindness of friends and family to get to and from class and anywhere else she wanted, or needed, to go.
As much as she enjoyed the security and stability of staying at home with her family, she yearned to be independent.
So, boldly, she took a semester off from school and enrolled in one of Junior Blind’s residential rehabilitation programs for those who are blind or visually impaired: The Hatlen Center in San Pablo, California, more than 100 miles away from her home.
The Hatlen Center operates out of twelve units within a San Pablo apartment complex of 76 units and Madison would be living in one of these apartments during her stay at Hatlen. She was nervous and scared.
Would her roommate be nice? Would she be able to learn her way around the apartment or the complex?
“Everything was like a big maze when I first arrived,” says Madison. “But, the students and staff were so kind and welcoming. I never felt alone.”
While at The Hatlen Center, Madison was expected to budget and pay for her real-world expenses, plan and cook her own meals, plot her own travel routes and keep her own house, including doing laundry, cleaning and shopping. She was on her own, but within Junior Blind’s supportive environment.
The Hatlen Center’s courses in assistive technology, independent living skills and Orientation and Mobility (white cane training) strengthened Madison each step of the way.
And, Madison thrived! She took to living independently quite well and before she knew it, she was graduating from the program and taking charge of her own life.
Today, Madison shares an apartment with two former Hatlen classmates in Berkeley, California.
“The Hatlen Center truly prepared me for living on my own,” says Madison. “I loved the program and believe this kind of training is important for anyone. It teaches life skills and really does prepare you for the real world.”