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October 26, 2012

Pathfinder teams up with college for study

Pathfinder Village, a planned residential community for people who live with Down syndrome and related developmental disabilities, has embarked on a research project with the Leadership Institute of Utica College. 

According to a media release from the facility, the study will identify those attributes of a planned community that create positive life experiences for residents and their families, and will yield data that may help those who make government policy and families planning for loved ones with disabilities.

The project is being coordinated through the Village’s research and education facility, the Kennedy Willis Center. The study team from Utica College is headed by principle researcher Dr. Dana B. Hart, who leads the college’s Master of Science program in health care administration. Research interviews of residents, staff, families, board members and other stakeholders, will be completed by December; a white paper of the team’s findings will be presented in early 2013. Funding is provided by the Michael A. and Margaret Nicolais Foundation.

“It’s appropriate to announce our study during October, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, as this study should be of great benefit to other organizations that advocate for people living with Down syndrome,” said Helen Stepowany, director of the Kennedy Willis Center. “The Utica study will enhance the national discussion of ‘what works’ and best practices in residential care models for persons living with a developmental disability.”

Village Chief Executive Officer Paul C. Landers said: “In spite of the advances in the rights and opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, the majority remain isolated and dependent on others for making relationships and being connected to their community. At Pathfinder Village, lasting friendships and a true sense of community occur naturally, and independence develops as a consequence of our planned community model of care.”

“The findings may offer insight into ways that people living with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings can become more pro-active in their daily lives and grow in self-advocacy,” Landers said in a media release. Specific data will be collected on how residents and staff interact, support systems, and how social inclusion occurs in the Village setting and the greater community.

Founded in 1980, Pathfinder Village is a recognized leader in human services and developmental disabilities. It also offers a day school program for students from area school districts and a summer camp program for young adults. To find out more information about Pathfinder Village, call 965-8377, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., visit the website at, or visit the facility’s fan page on Facebook.

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