Virginia Institute of Autism Gives Tour of New Campus in Albemarle County
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - As more people on the autism spectrum reach adulthood, the Virginia Institute of Autism is dedicating more resources to help them gain independence.
On Wednesday night, VIA showed the community its plans to transform the current home of The Center into its new campus.
According to VIA, only 14% of 22-year-olds with autism have jobs within their community. The VIA team is hoping that by expanding their services, they can help raise that number in central Virginia.
"We’re actually going to be teaching how to live independently, how to cook, how to clean, how to do your laundry how to go shopping," said VIA President Ethan Long. "As folks age out of the school system, there’s just not very many supports for folks with autism who are still struggling.”
The new building will house different programs that will help people learn practical skills to help them find jobs. For architect Cathy Purple Cherry who is overseeing the renovation, the project is personal.
"My whole life has been about supporting individuals with disabilities," Cherry said.
Cherry has a brother and son on the autism spectrum. She has worked closely with VIA to make sure the building will have everything it needs to serve VIA’s clients.
"I think what’s so important about the location of this building is that we're set right in the middle of the heart of a commercial center which allows a lot of employment opportunity," Cherry said.
VIA hopes the new facility will lead the way as a new model to better meet the needs of those who have been traditionally under served.
"This is a place where we're going to help build people's skills to be more independent and connect better in our community," Long said.
VIA hopes to close the deal on the building by April. After some light construction work, it plans on being up and running sometime in 2021.