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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Empowered to Go Anywhere!

Young man at buss stop holding a to-go mug.

Empowered to go anywhere! That’s how Jesse feels now that he knows his way around the public transportation system. Jesse is a young man who is autistic and when he connected with Disability Network he was embarking on a new path in life—just getting started with classes at his local community college and looking for a job. Jesse lived with his mom who works evenings and it was difficult for her to provide transportation when he needed it.

An Independent Living Specialist met with Jesse to discuss various transportation options. He decided to start with the door-to-door tele-transit system because that seemed less intimidating. Staff helped him get the paperwork submitted to register for it and to apply for reduced fare. Staff explained how the system works, how to schedule a ride, step-by-step what to expect, and then accompanied Jesse on his first ride.

Within a few months, Jesse wanted to try the fixed-route bus system because he wanted more flexibility to come and go without having to schedule his rides in advance. He was very tentative about taking this step and again sought the support of Disability Network. Staff met with Jesse to review the maps and bus schedules, discuss his options for bus stops and routes, and help him understand some of the terminology used on public transportation such as “inbound,” “outbound” and “transfer.” Again, our staff accompanied Jesse on his first fixed-route trip and provided him with pre-paid bus passes. Jesse was feeling much more confident and said he would be fine getting home on the bus by himself.

Our staff followed up with Jesse a week later to learn that he had been exploring new routes. He was using the bus to get to and from school and his new job, he had been downtown, and was planning on going to the mall in the coming weekend. Jesse said it was very liberating, and, “now that I know I have options, I feel much more hopeful!”

Nice job, Jesse! We know you can go anywhere now!

Assisting people in developing their independent living skills as they transition into adulthood is just one way we support people with disabilities in choosing their own path forward. We cannot do this important work without your support. To learn more about our programs and services, visit our website at www.dnswm.org or find us on Facebook.