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All Aboard America to look after adult disabled in Darrington

DARRINGTON An organization offering daytime care for disabled adults, All Aboard America hopes to bring its service to the Darrington area and will offer an informational meeting at the Mansford Grange at 1 p.m., Feb. 18
Chris Rehkopf, programs director for the All Aboard America branch thats looking to move into Darrington, was inspired to get involved with the program by her own experiences with raising a severely disabled foster child.
Rehkopfs autistic foster son had originally been scheduled as a two-week placement, but after she found out that she would be his 31st placement within the past seven years, she told her case manager that she wanted to keep him.
I didnt realize all the challenges that would come up, said Rehkopf, who described the predicament of finding a place for him after the age of 21, since he was no longer eligible to attend school and remained so disabled that even groups such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters werent equipped to accommodate him.
We tried sending him to a daycare program for the elderly, but their programs arent designed to deal with autistics, said Rehkopf, who didnt want her foster son to become a shut-in, but asserted that the degree of his disability makes him incapable of integrating into even the most remedial employment.
All Aboard America offer activities such as arts and crafts, music and even bowling to keep disabled adults entertained.
Rehkopf believes that the Mansford Grange in Darrington can serve as the site for a similar post-school coop, in which the primary caregivers for the disabled adults participate in the supervision at the daycare.
If theyre unable to do so, theyll have to pay a higher price, but were trying to make the prices for everyone low, so that they can afford it, Rehkopf said. Weve been talking to senior citizens about having them come in to read to the group, and to performing artists about entertaining them. One person even wants to put in a rabbit hutch, so theyll have that experience. Wed be offering lots of structured activity.
Rehkopf estimated that their daycare could take in as many as 30 disabled adults at once, but emphasized that the minimum age to be eligible would be 16. As for how much money might be needed to get the program up and running in Darrington, Rehkopf admitted that it would depend largely upon the number of adult disabled they began with.
To learn more attend the All Aboard America meeting at the Mansford Grange, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m., or you may contact Chris Rehkopf at 360-618-3861.

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