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LifeTown is a 5,000-square-foot indoor, functioning city designed specifically for children and teens with special needs. Through simulated activities with dozens of specially trained volunteers, students build confidence while learning important life skills, including fiscal responsibility, time-management, technology, and socialization.

At LifeTown’s campus, sections include a bank, medical and dental clinic, pet store, library, movie theater, restaurant, art supply store, and workshop. LifeTown serves more than 5,600 students per year who come from 20 school districts in seven counties throughout Ohio. We also offer a mentor program matching more than 100 Columbus area volunteers with older, mildly disabled students who are preparing to enter the workforce. 

LifeTown is a unique, valuable resource for educators and parents, developed by special education professionals and designed specifically to develop transition skills. Unlike the real world, there is no hurry and skills can be practiced over and over again in a safe, nurturing environment.

Teachers can select each student’s LifeTown lessons based on the needs being addressed in the student’s IEP. They can choose a cohesive, evidence-based model designed to improve competencies in the three transitional areas: personal/social, independent living, and pre-employment.

As the only program providing financial wellness education for children and teens with special needs, our goal includes education on identity protection, credit scores, interest rates, and using bill payment systems to repay credit card installments. These are all concepts that are critical for managing finances.

LifeTown offers our students the chance to hone their technical and interpersonal skills with hands-on tasks while interacting with our volunteers and other participants. Their long-term, real-world application of these specific skills leads to higher confidence, employability, and job readiness.

Role-playing is a great way to develop important life skills, and our volunteers help students learn in a safe, loving environment. By acting as bank tellers, store employees, waiters, librarians, police officers, doctors, and other community members, volunteers provide students with life-changing, real-world experience. 

The caring and supportive volunteers at LifeTown are instrumental in helping students with disabilities to transition to the great, big world. Individuals and groups are welcome. (Volunteer training sessions are typically 9:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday during the school year.) Please contact 614-372-6277 or scheduling@lifetowncolumbus.org for more information.

LifeTown is a program of The Lori Schottenstein Chabad Center.


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