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Taft College transitions young adults with disabilities to independence

Posted: 12:48 AM, Aug 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-07 07:48:24Z

For 27-year-old Frankie Ozaeta and his family, living an independent life seemed far fetched.

At birth, Frankie was diagnosed with a severe heart condition, Tetralogy of Fallot. Years later, he was diagnosed with DiGeorge Syndrome, a defect in his 22nd chromosome that limits him intellectually and makes it a struggle for Frankie to express himself.

"It effects his ability to learn," said John Ortiz, Frankie's grandfather. "To be whatever normal is."

The Ozaeta family says at 27 years old, intellectually, Frankie is where at 15 year old might be.

"I have come to the realization that children that are handicap or disabled...we tend to put them to the side," said Ortiz. "But we need to take the time to find out what it is that they can do and build on that."

Frankie got the opportunity to do that at Taft College's Transition to Independent Living Program.

Since 1955, the two-year TIL program has guided young adults like Frank into independence. The program aims to take students from living at home to dorm life at Taft College with the goal of eventually living on their own. Students are taught life skills like banking, grocery shopping, using public transportation and job interview skills.

Frankie says it's because of the program that he is now living on his own and thriving at his new job at the Boys and Girls Club.

"To be honest, I'm not very sure what I would be doing if it wasn't for them," said Ozeata.

For more information on Taft College's TIL program, visit their website.