It was big. Even though Jackson is a child living with autism, he was able to engage in this family activity and be a “regular little boy,” according to Hebert.
For six years, Jackson has attended school at Quest, Inc., in downtown Orlando. There, he participates in the Quest Kids Academy Quest For Living program. In 2015, the program received a Disney Grant to build and outfit a kitchen. In this living classroom, Jackson and other children learn to navigate the room and use its appliances, such as operating a microwave; placing dishes in the dishwasher; sorting silverware, placing food in the refrigerator and more.
The program is run by Quest, Inc., a local agency whose mission for more than 50 years has been to build communities where people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. With 27 locations in Orlando and Tampa, it serves individuals from ages 12 months to 80 years old, helping them to develop work and life skills. They can receive therapy; attend schools and a camp; live in group homes; and work at adult day training centers among its offerings.
The grant from Disney is a continuation of the relationship Walt Disney World Resort and Quest have had for more than 15 years. Each week Walt Disney World Textile Services sends truckloads of clean washcloths to be stacked and hangers to be sorted and recycled at Quest’s adult day training centers in Orlando.
“The hanger recycling was work that wasn’t being done before we started our relationship with Quest,” said Jackie Swisher, director of Walt Disney World Textile Services. “Besides helping us toward our company’s environmentality goals, the program allows us to interact with a community organization in a mutually meaningful way.”
Quest clients who perform this work also earn a paycheck while learning transferable job and life skills to help them live independently.
“The collaboration with Disney has enabled us to give our clients a variety of skills,” said Sue Koziol, Quest vice president of Vocational and Business Services. “They seem basic – sorting and fulfillment. But those are skill sets that any organization needs. We’re giving individuals hope that they, too, can be [productive] members of their community.”
With more than 74,000 Cast Members who live and work in Central Florida, Walt Disney World Resort is committed to investing in our community. Quest is one of hundreds of local nonprofits and organizations over the years that has received a Disney Grant for programs that focus on building a brighter future for children and families.