What happens when individuals with “intellectual disabilities” lose their main center of support? Their parents, what happens when their parents leave this world and leave their sons and daughters behind with no one to care for them? If only there was a facility “designed to be sensitive to the unique needs of individuals who are intellectually challenged” and for a long time there was no such place. Before 1997 there was no such place in Florida and as well as there being no place there were some troubling facts around this time concerning those with developmental disabilities in Florida:
- The State of Florida ranked 47th nationally in providing support services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
- 93% of Special Education Students with developmental disabilities that received a certificate of attendance will be unemployed and most will remain that way for their entire life.
Noah’s Nest, “an ‘in-town’ neighborhood ideally located close to shopping, public transportation, restaurants and employment. This neighborhood provides eleven individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live independently and freely engage in the community while living in a supported-living environment…” as it is described on Noah’s Ark website.
Kosik sees the Noah’s Landing community to come as a “Mayberry” type place a la The Andy Griffith Show, where everyone in the community helps out one another and takes care of each other.
It’s an in-town housing situation that has about 108 units and 200 tenants with disabilities. This living area gives individuals the chance to learn how to live on their own, but still be in a caring environment. That is what separates Noah’s Ark from other programs, because the Agency for Persons with Disabilities only assign individuals to a group home or something of that nature when the parents die or are too old to care for them.
Noah’s Ark allows them to get out on their own when every one else is setting out for college. And in relation to college Noah’s Ark even has program with Florida Southern College that acts as a Transitional program and is described as: “An innovative partnership with a 90% success rate at preparing ESE students for independent living and acquiring competitive employment BEFORE THEY GRADUATE…” on the Noah’s Ark website and was also named “Best Exceptional Student Education Program in Florida” in 2005.
All of these things combined are what make Noah’s Ark different; it gives off a sense of freedom but not freedom in sense of being alone. The tenants live in a community where people who care for them surround them, but they still are for all intents and purposes living “on their own.”
Jack Kosik is one of those people, he cares for them Kosik, the man behind “Noah’s Nest” and eventually “Noah’s Landing,” he does essentially every job for the community he has created. He does everything from changing light bulbs in the units to getting laws changed to make Noah’s Ark possible. Such regulations that have been changed like, “an Administrative Rule from the Florida Medicaid Handbook that limits how many people with developmental disabilities can live in a given area.” Which Kosik said took nine months to get the rule removed.
There was also a little problem with the neighboring communities having people with developmental disabilities living that close. This problem was quickly solved when Kosik explained with a presentation what to expect and compared it Lambs Farm in Illinois (a similar community that Noah’s Ark is modeled after in a way), and after this comparison he received approval from the neighboring communities, “If you people are anything at all like Lambs Farm, we got no problems with you!” one of the residents exclaimed after the presentation. The presentation was a success and then it was time to break ground.
Jack Kosik, who has a developmentally disabled child of his own, was driven to create Noah’s Ark when he had his own fears for his daughter Britney’s future after he would no longer be around to care for her. “Parents are Afraid to Die…” is a prominent headline on the website and it must be a scary thing to feel, fearing for what will happen to their children once they are gone, but with Noah’s Ark now there is hopefully less to worry about.
For more information: http://noahsarkflorida.org