In 2006, with my daughter’s help we created Bridging Hearts. Natalie was 24 years old, had finished her transition program, was living at home, working part-time, and spending her weekends with me rather than friends. She really enjoyed using the computer, but I was concerned about the safety of online groups and connections.
I envisioned a type of social club providing a safe environment for young adults with learning disabilities; where all members could feel a sense of belonging, instead of feeling lonely and isolated. Many have watched their siblings go off to college, get married, and create a life for themselves. My goal for Natalie and others like her was to have hope for a future; like their siblings and peers.
Bridging Hearts is an online social network. In addition we offer monthly events in the Twin Cities so members can meet each other in person rather than only through a computer screen. With this friend base for young adults in similar situations, the members have a social support network, non-judgmental relationships, and fun activities to do with people who are like themselves.
Since Bridging Hearts was created, many members have experienced an amazing transformation. This observation and feedback has come from parents, members, siblings, friends, and support personnel. For example, Natalie now has a very active social life, lives with another member independently, and gets together with friends (members) for bowling, shopping, movies, dining, and even camping! These activities are initiated and planned by members. This is a very significant change from her previous lifestyle.
I believe the number one factor for leading a happy life is meaningful social connections. Bridging Hearts has created a community making it easier to meet new friends in a safe and supportive environment, resulting in happier members, parents, relatives and friends.
Denise Martin, Founder and Director