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ACCESS Life Lab: Promoting Independence

A therapist assist two teenagers in a kitchen as they learn to cook.

Thanks to grant funding opportunities, the ACCESS Academy was thrilled to add a new space to campus: the ACCESS Life Lab. The Family and Consumer Science classroom is a lab for independent living designed to teach essential life skills. ACCESS occupational therapist Krysta Rupp explains, “Just like so many of the unique experiences students receive at ACCESS, the Life Lab brings innovative instruction to therapies as well as the classroom. It allows for the familiarity of a home kitchen, laundry, and bedroom setting to teach, demonstrate, and practice a variety of home-living skills within a safe learning environment. In many ways, it merges the academic skills taught in the classroom with the functional skills of therapies that are needed for a thriving adulthood.”

As a therapist, Krysta says she has been thrilled to jump into this new learning environment with her students. “I am able to allow for hands-on teaching, demonstration, and problem-solving in an environment that allows for trial and error,” she shares. “Every student that has been brought into the Life Lab has had the same look of awe and gratitude as they see a space that has been lovingly decorated and crafted to represent a home, feels cozy, and represents independence and maturity. The students recognize and appreciate the need for practice in cooking, laundry, bedmaking, cleaning, hanging and folding clothes and so much more, and they view the Life Lab as their space to learn and grow.”

A therapist teaches a teenage girl how to make a bed.

This program allows Academy students to develop skills that enable them to become critical thinkers and enhances their capacity to meet personal, family, career, and community challenges they will face in adult life. We are proud to add this unique environment to our curriculum to build brighter futures in every aspect of our students’ lives.