• Meghan Harvey

Empowering Lives: Organization Strives for an Inclusive Society

At First Frontier Forward, we love talking to great people in our community. One of those people is John Seely, who runs an organization called Empowering Lives.

John, who has a son with down syndrome, started Empowering Lives five years ago after noticing the world isn’t as inclusive as it should be. “Our vision is that people with any ability, or any kind of difference, should have the same rights as the rest of us have, and access to where they want to live, where they want to work, where they want to recreate,” says John. “Some people need a little support and help to do that.”

Empowering Lives is focused on providing support and coaching, rather than just completing a service for someone. “Coaches coach players for improved performance. They don’t play the game for them. They help them to be better so they’re more successful. Unfortunately, the industry that we’ve created to take care of people wasn’t doing that. They were doing “for” people and not “with” people,” John says.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the routines of many, but the team at Empowering Lives is striving to make the most of our current reality. “We’ve been focusing on health and wellness,” says John. “We’re doing a lot of outdoor activities, like hiking. We can’t be in groups anymore, so a lot of us are using different technologies, like Zoom and Google Hangouts.”

Empowering Lives is also staying involved with the community through volunteering at places like the Salvation Army, as well as helping the American Rescue Workers with food distribution.

John encourages anyone interesting in utilizing or working with the program to reach out. “We’re looking to have two people with one coach,” says John. “We’d spend three hours a day on volunteer work, have lunch together, then spend the afternoon working on skills, whether it’s budgeting, fitness, or cooking, for example.”

To learn more about the organization and how you can get involved, visit empoweringlivesfound.org.

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