This week’s episode of The 1 Girl Revolution Podcast features Rachelle Vartanian, founder of the Living and Learning Center – a nonprofit organization that works to enhance the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic, social, work-based, and community engagement.
Rachelle graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in teaching for the emotionally impaired and right out of college, she worked at a center for adjudicated youth. Rachelle was so passionate about that work, that she ended up working in that field for over 10 years. At the same time, Rachelle went back to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Personality and Development because she wanted to better understand why so many of her students chose to behave in self-destructive manners. It was during this same time that Rachelle began seeing signs of autism in her youngest son. When he was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, she made the decision to go back to school to get a second Master’s Degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders and she simultaneously began teaching high school special education.
Rachelle had been looking for resources and social skills groups that would benefit her son and through her own experience and seeing the lack of support and resources – she decided to start her own local family group. Every Sunday, Rachelle facilitated a group of like-minded individuals that they called “Weamara” (the initials of the original social skills group members) and that went on for almost two years.
After those two years, Rachelle recognized there was a greater need and she had a vision for what she could do to be the change she wanted to see in the world. Rachelle took a leap of faith and quit her job after being a special education teacher for 20 years, she sold her family home, drew money from her retirement, and downsized her life – and that’s what started the Living and Learning Center.
The Living and Learning Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, whose mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Through therapeutic, social, work-based, and community engagement, the Living and Learning Center seeks to support, enrich, inspire, and embolden their participants and their families so they can achieve their goals and thrive. The Living and Learning Center’s vision is to become the nation’s model in supporting the highest quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- Rachelle’s inspiring life story;
- About Rachelle’s journey with her son who has Asperger’s Syndrome;
- How Rachelle got the idea to start the Living and Learning Center and how it has grown and evolved throughout the years;
- The story of how Rachelle took a leap of faith, quit her job, sold her house, and started the Living and Learning Center;
- About the incredible work that the Living and Learning Center does to support individuals with disabilities and differences and their families;
- And so much more.
The 1 Girl Revolution Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.
For more information about Rachelle and the Living and Learning Center, please visit the Living and Learning Center’s website.