Nonprofit gets grant to teach clients how to use Uber

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Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a local nonprofit group is now able to help developmentally disabled adults get around more independently.

Osprey Village was founded in 2008 by parents of adults with developmental disabilities. The group provides community-based job training and respite services to individuals with Medicaid waivers in Beaufort and Jasper counties.

Osprey Village director of operations Julie Kuhns said a survey of their consumers' families revealed that the number one problem they face is transportation.

The grant from the Community Foundation gives Osprey Village the opportunity to implement an Uber training program so individuals with disabilities don't have to rely so heavily on their parents for rides.

The organization trains clients on how to use the Uber app - from installation to taking their first rides with an Uber driver. Individuals are trained in how to identify their drivers, how to make appropriate conversation with them, and how to make sure they are dropped off in the right locations.

Aside from giving the challenged consumers more independence and giving their parents a break, Kuhns said that the Uber training program is great because it can be replicated for other populations, such as the elderly.

The Osprey Village administrative staff is putting together a manual for that purpose.

"Right now we have people that are using it intermittently to get to and from work, to meet friends at a movie, just to various events throughout the community," Kuhns said. "It just takes a little burden off the parents from always having to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, providing transportation to everything their very active and vibrant adult with a developmental disability wants to be involved in."

Osprey Village plans to build an inclusive residential neighborhood with individualized services for adults with special needs.

According to the group's website, the organization was deeded 63.12 acres of land in Okatie last year. Construction on the village will not begin until 2019 at the earliest.

The village will include individual homes, cottages and apartments, and will be close to shopping, healthcare providers, entertainment and more.

"When we build, (transportation is) going to be a big factor in the success of living independently," Kuhns said.

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

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