What We Do
The Power of ONE
Discovering Passion - Empowering Diversity
The problems in the world today will be solved not by the smartest, fastest, or richest, but by those with the greatest passion to discover their gifts and what they were born on this earth to do. - Melinda Jennis
Founded in Montville Township, New Jersey in 2002, Pathways initially became known for their innovative “children teaching children” model, which was composed of mentors working one-on-one with children with various disabilities. For the first five years, Pathways focused on building recreation and mentor programs that included children of all abilities. However, one thing plagued Pathways at every turn; the employment rate for people with disabilities was 70%. We knew the sports and recreation programs, no matter how inclusive, would not help those with disabilities pay rent or put food on the table. Therefore, we set our sights not only on building inclusion but solving this unemployment issue at the grassroots level.
Pathways took the common desire that all children have to be included and find their life's passions and used this to bring children with and without disabilities together. So many children without disabilities have lost their passion because they are given few options but to become consumed with SAT scores, GPAs, and building resumes for college. These children are churned out of an educational system in an assembly line fashion that often leaves out the most important lesson in life; finding their passions and strengths and empowering them to pursue work they love. At the same time, children with disabilities are rarely given the opportunity to find what they love because of low expectations and a focus on what they "can't" do. They are often passed through the educational system and graduate to stand in an unemployment line. Pathways challenged the children in both worlds to solve these issues by first giving them the opportunity to find their own strengths and passions and then to develop inclusive programs to teach children of varying ability levels to find theirs. It is a win-win proposition that begins when ONE child finds their passion and begins to ignite that passion in others. Pathways has grown from one program in 2003 to over 40 programs today. These programs are led by children and the adults they find to mentor and guide them. These children have discovered that ONE person with a passion cannot only empower those around them but can ultimately begin to redefine the world we live in!