We may be differently able, but we are ALL able.

Our Story

The mission of Beyond BASIC all started with two sisters, Melissa and Ashton Johnson. We couldn’t have known then, but It’s been developing all of their lives.The Johnson family is a great team. They love each other, cheer each other on, and challenge each other. That’s what Beyond BASIC is all about.

When the opportunity arose with the City of Charleston to start a project, these sisters started forming a life skills pilot program. This is how Beyond BASIC found it’s name.

Extending Our Family

Molly Smith began bringing her friend Anthony Pope to Beyond BASIC shortly after the pilot program. Molly worked as a private aid to Anthony and also practiced music therapy in the low country. Molly’s love for Anthony and her desire to see his success led her to resign from music therapy to join Ashton in forming Beyond BASIC Life Skills. Ashton and Molly knew that they needed to step up and create a successful, challenging program for our amazing friends. One of Beyond BASIC’s essential mottos comes from the loved Dr. Seuss. He said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Ashton and Molly found inspiration in these famous words and never looked back!

After seeing the successful results of the pilot program, we were sure this was our mission in life. Many parents confirmed the need for this type of service that goes beyond the basics.

Beyond BASIC’s foundation is found in our 5 key elements; to develop social skills, develop health awareness, develop independent living skills, increase self-esteem, and training and learning new skills. Each day at the program is centrally focused on one of these elements, while the other elements are incorporated into different activities.

When practicing social skills, teammates are involved in role play, group discussions (what we call “Trust Circle”), and practice through everyday interactions. Our mornings always begin with a “Morning Social,” where teammates are encouraged to take initiative with their friends. Various opportunities for interaction are provided, however, teammates are never told what to do with their time. Instead, they are encouraged to utilize leadership skills in order to involve everyone in a game or activity. Facilitators step in as needed to prompt teammates to get involved or to help a friend.

Practice Makes Perfect

Wednesday’s are geared towards nutrition and cooking skills. We understand that the kitchen can be an intimidating and unfamiliar arena. Beyond BASIC aims to increase skills, thereby increasing confidence. We have found that once teammates are more familiar with cooking, they are more willing to makes meals and try new things. Our favorite method of making meals is to take a typically unhealthy lunch and modify it to make it healthy and nutritious. For example, teammates might make a healthier version of chicken nuggets and French fries. The chicken breasts are cut into bite size pieces, breaded with cornflakes, and baked to perfection. Instead of French fries, they make “Tiger Fries” (a mixture of baked potato and sweet potato fries). By modifying a familiar meal, a teammate is more comfortable trying a healthy alternative. We love to expose our friends to new meals and encourage a healthy and active lifestyle!

Understanding money and how to use it is incredibly vital to living independently in this day and age. Beyond BASIC believes that while each teammate approaches money differently, we are all capable of using money in a functional capacity. Some teammates practice identifying money, while others practice spending money. Some of our favorite money skills activities are role playing grocery shopping, money skills bingo, and earning money through daily jobs at the center.



Our Mission

Beyond BASIC assists adults with intellectual disabilities in becoming contributing members of society by providing a program that enables independent living skills beyond the basics. Our curriculum provides tools and develops skills in an individualized program that fosters independence to the fullest extent while advocating a movement for inclusion within the community.

5 Elements

1. Develop Social Skills– Social situations for verbal and nonverbal teammates are provided to practice communication sills, manners, and etiquette.

2. Develop Health Awareness– Teammates learn good personal hygiene in addition to health and fitness practices. We also practice cooking and eating healthy, nutritious meals.

3. Develop Independent Living Skills– Teammates practice time management, personal budgeting, housekeeping skills, and planning everyday or special events. We also experience transportation methods and much more.

4. Increase Self-Esteem– We work to grow confidence and increase self expression. We also learn about dealing with confrontation and anger management.

5. Training and Learn New Skills– Teammates learn about new talents and subjects to foster interest in specialized areas, as well as experiencing cultural immersion.

Our Vision

Building Awareness in Supportive Independent Communities 

We believe each individual is capable of their own unique independence and deserves a quality program that will suit these needs. Beyond BASIC aims to provide this support to as many teammates as possible while advocating for this population in the community. We work to provide a variety of learning opportunities and experiences so that our friends are well rounded and find their purpose.