Horizons was founded in 1979 by sisters Chris and Kathleen McNaboe when they were both special education teachers. Parents of their students with developmental disabilities asked them to start an away-from-home camping experience for their children, similar to those available to their non-handicapped brothers and sisters.
Horizons was the expression of the civil rights movement as they saw it locally. During an era when many people with disabilities lived in large dehumanizing institutions or were kept apart from the mainstream of life in school and communities, Chris and Kathleen believed passionately in the capacity of their students and knew they just wanted the same things out of life most others take for granted.
At first, that meant creating the opportunity for them to head off to camp for several weeks of new adventures like their brothers and sisters. Chris and Kathleen envisioned campers with significant disabilities enjoying arts & crafts, pottery, horseback riding, swimming and boating. Others in the Human Services profession at the time were skeptical and questioned their vision. But they pushed on and cultivated partnerships, learned from experts, took risks and inspired others.
And, with the help of many talented people who shared their passion, Chris and Kathleen created a non-profit organization and opened a summer camp. It was a grassroots beginning, with forty-five campers in attendance at a rented facility. Over the years much has changed, but the heart and soul of Horizons remains the same. The focus on each person’s capacity rather than disability is the essence of Horizons.
In the mid '80s, parents and case managers from state agencies approached Horizons to create Supported Living opportunities for people ready to move from their parents' homes or out of Connecticut’s institutions. With the help of parents who believed in the mission, a limited partnership was formed and the current Horizons property was purchased in 1985. This transforming event enabled Horizons to do so much more. Parents told us they desperately needed respite during the year so we created “Weekends in the Country.” Shortly thereafter, requests poured in and Horizons responded by developing year-round Supported Employment and Educational Support Services.
Horizons Educational Support Services provides students in their local public schools with opportunities to maximize their transition plan and realize their dreams for the future.
Horizons Supported Living enables individuals to live the life they want to live in apartments, group homes, condos or single-family homes in area towns.
Horizons Supported Employment and Options helps people to find and work in community-based jobs that match their talents and interests. It also delivers tailor-made opportunities for adults who are growing older and for adults who have physical or multiple disabilities.
Each year, Horizons provides critical respite services to over 1,500 children and their families via “Weekends in the Country” and summer camp. Engaging, well trained instructors inspire summer campers to try and learn in new and different ways for eight weeks every summer. Horizons “Weekends in the Country” run from September to May. These action-packed weekends are filled with fun and friendship.
Today Horizons supports nearly 1,700 people annually by focusing on each person’s capacity and talents while responding to the changing needs of families, individuals and the community. We expect more than what others think is possible.