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Miami Proud: Students With Disabilities Find 'Rich Environment, Safe Haven' At Miami Learning Experience School

MIAMI (CBSMiami)  - The Miami Learning Experience School, located in Southwest Miami-Dade has been a safe space for children and adults with developmental disabilities since 1977.

Students there range from age 5 to 47, most have down syndrome or autism.

This is an environment created for them to live rich lives.

"We have students that have started with babies that have graduated at the high school, started the Shannon campus, and now are living with some assistance but independently at home," said high school teacher Alexandra Salas.

Students like Alexander Milne.

CBS4 got to first meet him at the 29th annual fashion show fundraiser, he and other students walked the runway and worked up the crowd.

The 35-year-old loves the spotlight. He is an outgoing, energetic student who Salas calls a 'Jack of all trades: he plays drums, does some acting, works at Publix, and is quite the character.

He is a testament to the MLE mission, living on campus with roommates and some assistance, he's mostly independent.

"That is when it comes full circle because I know that the time we've invested along with the parents and the therapist and the entire culture we have here at the school. Then, you go outside and you take a step back and let that student show you and the world everything that they can do it, but they don't always get the opportunity to show that they can," Salas said.

MLE believes they have capabilities far beyond what was imagined before and they develop programs and objectives that help each student achieve their goals.

In addition to seeing them reach their full potential, working with these students provides a unique reward.

Kevin Grace is the executive director. He beams when he talks about this environment, how it feels like a family more than a job.

"These students look at the world through a different lens than we do. Their approach is with such happiness that it is contagious," said Grace.

The fashion show is a sold-out event every year. The money they raise furthers their programing and their goal is to provide more independent living for their students.

For more information visit their website, click here.

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