By Joseph Pratt
The Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD) Bridges program held a graduation ceremony for 10 participants of the six-week program on July 25 at the Vocation Station.
Bridges assists under-served areas of the state in developing employment services for youth with developmental disabilities as they transition from school to employment. The students participate in job shadowing, job coaching and a variety of educational opportunities to help them achieve their employment goals.
The overall goal of the project is to enhance career exploration options and increase employment outcomes by developing a collaborative network of services that will assist students in achieving their employment goals.
Laurie Evans, employment team leader with the Vocation Station, helped organize the employment opportunities for students. Evans started the students off by putting them through a class for one week, which gave them the basic idea of what options they had and how they were going to be completing their jobs. The students also learned special skills such as time management, money management and interviewing skills.
“The students really like it, especially when they get their paychecks, then they were really excited,” Evans said.
The students then went to work for the remaining five weeks, where they had the opportunity to work in food service, retail, janitorial, lawn maintenance and car detailing. Some of the locations they were placed in include Dakota’s Steakhouse, the Salvation Army Portsmouth Corps and the Elks Country Club.
“I think programming like this is very important,” Evans said. “I know when I graduated high school, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and if I had different work experiences then I would have had a better sense of direction going into college. For some of the students we work with, college might not be an option, so already having those skills necessary for employment can be very important. Giving them job experience gives them a sense of direction when they seek out work after school.”
Those graduating from the program include: Jeromy Cooper, Jonathan Maynard, Chelsee Stiltner, James Charles, Jacee Yearwood, Ivy Crabtree, James Madden, Ricky Kelley, Tyler King and Dustin Adkins.
“This program has been a blessing for all of the young adults involved,” Lisa Madden, mother of James Madden, said. “Our son, Jimmy, has grown so much since he started the program. Each year, we’ve seen an increase with his language and social skills, all which are vital to the workforce arena. Jimmy is very talented with electronics and it is our hope that he will be able to find employment that utilizes that gift. Programs such as this one are instrumental in the growth of these young adults and I’d love to see even more of them available.”
For more information on opportunities available for individuals with developmental disabilities, visit the SCBDD on the web at www.sciotocountydd.org, like them on Facebook at Scioto County Board of DD or follow them on Twitter @SciotoDD.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.