Avenues to Independence
How it all Began

Avenues to Independence opened its doors in 1953 in the basement of a Park Ridge church because a group of parents believed things should be different for their sons and daughters with developmental disabilities. The children were not readily accepted into public schools, and the parents wanted their children to get an education while remaining a part of the community close to home, among family and friends.

...and that’s what happened.

By the 1970s, thanks to the efforts of our founding parents and parents like them across the nation, children with developmental disabilities were given the right to have a public education. When that happened, Avenues concentrated its efforts on programs for adults.

Today we offer a variety of services to more than 200 people with developmental disabilities and their families. They benefit from residential, vocational, recreational and community living opportunities.

We are growing and better than ever as we continue to redefine ourselves and plan for the future. In 2003 we opened a state-of-the-art work center in Wheeling that provides employment to 170 people. Later that year we moved Avenues’ headquarters to a new home in the heart of Park Ridge—the Jane and Albert Wohlers Center. It was the first time in our history that we had a place where our program participants, staff, volunteers, parents, and friends could gather to learn about and support people with developmental disabilities.

Since 1953, Avenues to Independence has given people with disabilities the chance to lead more independent and productive lives. We thank the hundreds of volunteers, families, staff members and donors who have made Avenues what it is today. But most of all we say thank you to the people Avenues serves. They are truly an inspiration to us all.