— DANVILLE – When Danville High School’s transition students began their classes at the Hackey House, some of them had trouble even opening a milk jug.
In the independent living classes they’ve had at the house from freshman to senior year, all of them have made great strides.
“They went from having everything handed to them to making their own breakfast,” said Sandy Stefanovige, paraprofessional house manager for the Hackey House.
Among the skills taught to students at the house, located on 302 Bloom Street, are how to cook, clean, use a budget and grooming. In the Hackey House’s garden, they also learn how to plant crops, grow them, clean them and cook them.
A daily menu is planned, where students prepare and their own breakfasts and lunches. Groups of students are also taken grocery shopping once a week.
“Wednesday is our day to go out into the community,” said Andrea Stine, a Danville life skills teacher. Common destinations are Giant and Wal-Mart, for groceries. “A lot of teachable moments happen in the community,” said Stine. The students can be taught something in a classroom, but they don’t see how it connects to their life until they’re participating in it, hands-on. This same principle was the reason for the foundation of the Hackey House, in January of 2012.
“Since we’ve come here, it’s so interesting to hear the parents talk about how they (the students) have grown,” said Stine.
“They’re excited to come and show off their ‘other house’ to their family,” said Stefanovige.
The Hackey House also places students at local businesses, where they can earn money, learn to work as a team and develop motor skills
The staff of the Hackey House wants to get the students used to the larger Danville community, and the community used to them. These students will likely live here for the rest of their lives, said Stine, and the Hackey House wants to make sure they can be productive members of society.
The students also take tours of businesses so they can see different work environments.
“You go into some businesses and they’re really welcoming,” said Stine. However, some parents of students have reported seeing store managers remove items from display that their children handled, she said.
“They don’t’ have a disease, they’re not going to harm anyone,” said Stefanovige. “They more the community sees that, the more they can be accepted as the person across the street.”
“The more that we get out and they (the community) see the success of what we’re doing, the more supportive they are,” said Stine.
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