After years of striving to become a better society, the world still seems to be unkind to the unique gems that function differently from what is considered normal. Whether people admit it or not, Intellectually-disabled individuals have been targets of discrimination and prejudice that hinders them from achieving their full potential. Anthony’s Center for Independent Adult Opportunities aims to change that and be an instrument for change.
Anthony’s Center for Independent Adult Opportunities is a fledgling nonprofit with the objectives to promote independent living, job training, job creation, and recreation in a safe environment where individuals with intellectual disABILITIES can live their best lives. The non-profit organization creates opportunities for some of the most overlooked yet talented and capable individuals in society and makes them part of a bigger community by giving them a platform. By creating a holistic solution for intellectually-disabled individuals, the company is changing the narrative not only for them but also for their families, making them feel seen and understood, and helping them build the best life possible.
Founded by Lisa Ciao, Anthony’s Center for Independent Adult Opportunities was sparked by Anthony, the founder’s son, who has Kleefstra Syndrome. Lisa wanted to create an environment where her son would get the encouragement he needs to lead a meaningful, inclusive, and independent life. Today, the organization provides its residents with support and a sense of community that helps increase their living and decision-making skills, improves health and wellness, provides safety, and increases their employment opportunities.
Lisa has always made it her mission to amplify the narrative of her son’s life, starting with writing the children’s book Anthony’s Way, I AM ME!, tackling her son’s journey through life amidst his special needs and uniqueness. Using her talent as an author, Lisa discloses her experiences as a mother of four adult children and candidly shares how Anthony’s diagnosis changed their lives. Like many of their residents and their families today, the founder shared that they have had their fair share of difficulties, but those hardships never hindered them from embracing Anthony’s unique gifts.
“As a mom, I understand the importance of encouraging our children and others like them to live a more meaningful, inclusive, and independent life,” Lisa said. Since founding Anthony’s Center for Independent Adult Opportunities, Lisa has never turned her back from serving a bigger purpose and empowering not only intellectually-challenged individuals but also their parents, letting them know that they are not alone in their journey towards loving their children with special needs and preparing them to live fulfilling lives in this harsh society.
Asked where she envisions Anthony’s Center for Independent Adult Opportunities in the future, Lisa shared that they strive to make the non-profit a holistic community that will provide housing, support staff, and community facilities where adults with intellectual disABILITIES can live and thrive as independents in their own right. The non-profit holds a vision of an environment where each resident thrives, lives their best life, and feels connected to a greater whole that fully accepts, acknowledges, respects, and recognizes their potential.