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About 20 years ago, the students in one Pennsylvania high school's special education program decided they weren't learning enough in the classroom.

Sure, there are some transition skills that can be taught within a school building: how to count change, how to cook (on a single burner), how to sweep linoleum floors.


Instructor Jenny and a student work on money skills. Image via PSPB Creative Group.

But actually learning to be semi-independent in the real world? That's gonna take some practice.

They came up with an idea: an apartment outside of school where they could take turns living and practicing life skills with a transition coach.

That program (called LifeLink) was so successful that it's now a regular part of the curriculum for the Wild Dream Team, the special education program based at State College Area High School in Pennsylvania.

Wild Dream Team students learn how to navigate the bus system. Image courtesy of Jenny Yost-Lee.

"The students came to the conclusion that the classroom methods we were using to teach transition skills weren't sufficient," explains instructor Jenny Yost-Lee. "And they wanted to create a plan that enabled them to learn the skills in the real world."

At the LifeLink apartment, Wild Dream Team students have the opportunity to practice their skills in an environment that's a bit riskier than the classroom — no parents allowed.

It's a huge step forward for students with learning and developmental disabilities who want to push themselves. And it's a perfect complement to the transition curriculum they're learning in school.

The Wild Dream Team helps students with disabilities set goals to reach whatever level of independence is right for them.

All the while, Jenny Yost-Lee and the rest of the staff provide a supportive environment to help students reach those goals.

"My mission is to make [each student] a good neighbor," explains Jenny.

The students' goals, of course, vary widely: join Spanish club, spend a week in the LifeLink apartment, commit to a volunteer position in the community.

Jenny doesn't much care what the students can't do because of their disabilities. "I know what they can't do," she says. "That doesn't matter. I want to know what they can do."

A Wild Dream Team student in a job training program. Image courtesy of Jenny Yost-Lee.

But Jenny doesn't set goals for the students. Instead, they're the ones deciding what they want to do next.

"It's incredibly empowering when the students choose their own goals," Jenny explains. "When they say, 'I'm ready. I want to do this.'"

"This is about showing people what we can do."

Once a student has set a goal, though, that's when Jenny and the team step in. When a student commits to trying something new, "[they] do it unabashedly. There's no turning back."

Although Jenny may have a pivotal role in the success of the Wild Dream Team, she insists, "This is not about me. This is about the students and the team. It's about showing people what we can do."

Want to see for yourself what the students and the program can do? Take a look.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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