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"We Dig Chapel Haven" ceremonial groundbreaking launches new chapter for adults with disabilities

Chapel Haven drew more than 200 families and friends at its September 15 groundbreaking, celebrating a new chapter in Chapel Haven’s storied history.

Chapel Haven is underway with a multi-year campus expansion, with the ultimate goal of providing lifelong services to adults with social and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1972, Chapel Haven empowers 250 adults with a range of disabilities, from autism and Down Syndrome to Asperger Syndrome, to live independent and self-determined lives.

Among the featured speakers were State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Alderman Richard Furlow and Chapel Haven President Michael Storz, along with parents and adults. All attendees signed a ceremonial beam and toured the construction.

The event drew lots of media coverage. Click here to read a front-page story in the New Haven Register. The New Haven Independent also did a story. Click here to read the coverage in the New Haven Independent.

TV stations who covered the event included FoxNews 61. To see their coverage, click here

“I am so proud of Chapel Haven’s founding in 1972. We were the first agency of our kind to champion the idea that adults with disabilities can gain independent and live happy, productive lives,” Storz said. “With the expert help of SLAM architects and our building team, we are poised to become a pioneer once again with the planned addition of aging services and a complete transformation of our campus.”

Students Jamie Harberg and Andrew Burbank got the crowd singing along to songs from “Wicked” and “If I Had a Hammer.”

Chapel Haven was a pioneer when the agency was founded by two families on Chapel Street in New Haven in 1972, to help adults with disabilities move away from the protective wings of their parents and into a more independent, adult lifestyle. Fast forward 45 years and Chapel Haven has broken ground on a campus expansion that promises to be a national model in accommodating the changing needs of adults with disabilities as they age.

Dr. Fred Volkmar, a Chapel Haven board member and an internationally renowned expert in autism as the Irving B. Harris Professor at the Yale Child Study Center, said Chapel Haven is at the forefront.

“With earlier detection and treatment, many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders are doing better overall, but often need continued support as they enter adulthood,” Dr. Volkmar said. “Chapel Haven has been a leader is providing such support to students interested in going on to college and adult independence.  It is one of the few programs around the country to offer comprehensive support for individuals and their families.”

Phase One consists of construction of three new buildings, including a new, 32,500 SF building to house the REACH program, where adults with developmental and social disabilities learn independent living, a welcome center, and a new, universally designed facility allowing those with significant life skills and medical needs to remain living among friends in a community they call home.

The project is being designed by S/L/A/M Collaborative & S/L/A/M Construction Services and owner’s representative Leland Torrence.

ABOUT CHAPEL HAVEN
Founded in 1972 in a house on Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, Chapel Haven is a nationally accredited transitional living program and approved private special education school with a mission of teaching adults with cognitive disabilities and social disabilities to live independent and productive lives. Chapel Haven has grown to serve more than 250 adults (18 years of age and older) in the residence and the community with three distinct programs; REACH, Asperger’s Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT), and Chapel Haven West (Tucson, AZ). Read more at www.chapelhaven.org.

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