When John Poston watched his son Blake and daughter Margot go off to college and leave Margot’s twin, Michael, behind because of Down syndrome, John knew he had to do something. “It’s not right. My other children were going off to have fun, socialize, learn, and Michael was at home watching television,” said John. With years of experience in real estate behind him, John got busy developing Daymark Living for adults with IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities).
But the story begins really after Michael was born, when there was no pre-school that would take him.
“We heard about a pre-school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama – Rise – where Gene Stallings (famed Alabama football coach) and hiswife Ruth Annwereheavily involved,” saidJohn.Hewent to Tuscaloosa with his former father-in-law, John Duncan, and they witnessed a four-year-old with Down syndrome reading and writing. They looked at each other and said, “We’re in.” The non-profit Rise school in Dallas started not long after with eight students.
That was 20 years ago. Today, there are 60 students, and Rise is now housed in the Moody Family YMCA,“a Godsend,” according to John. “We have wonderful friends, including the Touchdown Club, who have raised $750,000 to $1 million a year to keep it going.” At times, he said, it wasn’t easy. But the Dallas school has helped to spawn six more Rise Schools around the country.
John’s son Michael attended Rise, then went on to elementary school, junior high and high school. “After students with IDD ‘age out’ of high school,” said John, “socialization and learning opportunities go away. At that point, most are home alone.”
A search for an appropriate community for Michael was discouraging. “In North Texas, there are 250,000 people with IDD, 205,000 of whom are 18 years old and above, and not one community until now!” said John.
Enter John Poston’s Daymark Living, an exquisite 200-bedroom community in Waxahachie due to open July 9th. The architectural rendering looks like something Ralph Lauren would have designed for a beach. Duplex and fourplex cottages surround a club house and an education building, a fitness center and a resort-style pool. Each resident will have a private bedroom, a closet and a bathroom. A kitchen and a living room are shared in each unit. The community will be staffed 24/7.
Is the rental community non-profit? “No. I can’t afford two non-profits!” said John with a laugh. They plan to create scholarships, but, for the most part, it is private-pay. There is, however, a Daymark Living Social Club that provides affordable outings for anyone 16 and older. If residents don’t already have jobs, the community will teach them skills that will help them gain employment.
And John has an additional plan: a 65-acre tulip-picking garden next door to Daymark Living with over one million tulips and a tulip festival in March 2019. This will provide jobs for residents to profit-share so that they can afford to live at Daymark. “The IDD population is largely underemployed. Not everyone under-stands IDD,” said John. His hope is that, if this works, it will create financial independence opportunities for people with IDD and change the perception of the value of this population.
“The mission of Daymark is to provide people with IDD an environment like we all have – neighbors and a peer group with whom to live a quality life. Just like us. Just like my other two kids.”
In September, Michael moves into Daymark Living along with numerous peers. No more sitting at home alone for him.
By Linda Faulkner Johnston—Tradition Senior Living. Article was originally featured here.