Mychal’s Learning Place
Mychal’s Learning Place is a nonprofit organization that provides support, training and opportunities to youth and young adults with developmental disabilities so they can build independence and pursue their goals and dreams. Founder Ed Lynch founded Mychal’s Learning Place in 2002 as an after-school program. They have expanded to include an adult day program, a Saturday enrichment activity series, and support and training for parents. More recently they opened two social enterprises, Mychal’s Bakery & Coffee and Mychal’s Printing & Embroidery, which offer students on-the-job training.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
“I created Mychal’s to honor my daughter, Mychal, who passed away in 1996 at 7½ years of age. I think of her daily and know that she would be happy here at Mychal’s, where she would be loved, challenged and accepted.”
What do you want families with a special needs child to know?
“Set the bar higher than anything you’ve been told about the limits of disabilities. Imagine what you want for your child and think, ‘How can I get them there or close to there?’ Start them early at home with chores and include them in all the activities. They can do it, and we can accommodate them so they can be successful and more independent. Maybe even more importantly, leave the label at the door. Labels infer that these children and our students have limitations, but their opportunities are limitless.”
How do you use your success to do good in your community?
“On top of our main mission to support, train and provide opportunities for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities, we strive to support our entire community. We’ve been hosting regular food drives to provide access to the most basic needs for families within the special needs community who may be food-scarce. We’ve even been keeping our ovens warm during COVID-19 by baking and delivering cookies to frontline workers throughout our community.”
How can parents best invest in their kids’ future success?
“Mychal’s Learning Place believes in challenging our students to succeed by setting high expectations as they reach adulthood. This empowers them to live independent, fulfilled and productive lives as members of our community. As parents, our instinct is to always protect our children, so it can be difficult to challenge them when we know it’s going to be a difficult path for them. However, that is how our children can grow, that is how they expand, and that is how they can build their self-esteem so they can continue on a path toward achieving their goals and dreams.”