Category Archives: Life Skills

“STEP” Provides College Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Another college, in Massachussetts, on board with providing transition opportunities for students with disabilities!

The Norton program, known as STEP, serves students with intellectual disabilities who are involved with three programs at Bridgewater [State University], STEP program teacher Ashley Rodrigues said.

While all of the programs are geared toward students with intellectual disabilities, the Transitions at Bridgewater and Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment programs are both designed for high school students between the ages of 18 and 22 who have been unable to pass the MCAS tests, Rodrigues said.

Transitions at Bridgewater offers students weekly workshops covering topics such as money management, social skills, campus and social media safety and interview skills.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program gives students an opportunity to audit a course and experience college life, including spending time with college students.

Read the article here.


Aggies Elevated Program Accepts Students Into First Cohort

A new program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at Utah State University,  Aggies Elevated,  has accepted its first cohort for the Fall of 2014.

The Aggies Elevated program was created with young adult learners in mind by experts in the fields of disability and special education at USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Our supportive and inclusive environment is close to home, yet far enough away to give young adults with intellectual or other disabilities the opportunity to learn and grow while participating in all the activities that a traditional residential campus has to offer.

Students in the new program will develop academic and independent living skills and will engage in career exploration, work internship, vocational electives, and personal growth through coursework tailored to each individual. Part of each student’s plan will also include  community-based work internships.

Unified Sports Program Provides Skills for Life

A new program in Utah, the Unified Sports Program, is helping students with intellectual disabilities develop skills that will lead to better employment and and independent living (Deseret News, May 3, 2014).

Special Olympics Utah and the Utah High School Activities Association partnered to initiate the [Unified Sports] program in Utah this year, assisting schools in ensuring that students with disabilities have access to extracurricular sports — a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in January 2013.

Intellectually disabled students are apparently five times as likely to be employed after high school if they have actively participated in Special Olympics activities, said Special Olympics CEO Amy Hansen, who called it a “landmark opportunity” for the students. She said the disabled participants also live an average of five years longer when they’ve had the interactive experience.

“It helps them learn life skills that empower them throughout their lives,” Hansen said.

Read the article here.

University Provides Life Skills Training

As reported in the Pocono Record, March 3, 2014

A University in Pennsylvania has designed a program to provide life skills training to students with intellectual disabilities.

The three-year CILLS [Career Independent Living and Learning Studies] program hosted by East Stroudsburg University is designed to provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities life skills, while offering a learning experience in a campus environment. Life off campus, developmental activities and acquiring the ability for independent living and employment are part of the experience.

As they gear up to enter the world with plans to take advantage of Transition Night’s collection of key sources, students in Jean Sandberg’s CILLS class shared a taste of shopping savvy, illustrating ways to calculate grocery orders and check out sales circulars.

Read more here.

Utah Project for Visually Impaired Focuses on Transition for Youth

Project STRIVE (Successful Transition Requires Independence, Vocation & Education) is an organization that focuses on the development of transition skills for youth who are blind and visually impaired.

NFB Project STRIVE is dedicated in providing quality programs to help meet the unique needs of blind and visually impaired youth throughout Utah. Project STRIVE instructors are positive, educated, blind adults who are fully dedicated to model, mentor, encourage and teach life, education, and employment readiness skills. These skills, along with a positive attitude towards blindness is absolutely critical for blind and visually impaired youth to transitionsuccessfully as adults.

Most of the updated information about the activities of Project STRIVE can be found on its facebook page.

This promotional video was created two years ago and describes more about the project.

The website is located here.

Smiling With Hope Bakery: Real Life Skills with a Smile

Students in a Newark, Ohio High School are all smiles when it comes to making pizza. Smiling With Hope Bakery is operated by students with disabilities in a non-traditional way.

When it comes to pizzerias, the Smiling with Hope Bakery is not what you might call traditional.

Smiling with Hope is in a school, which means locked doors and specific hours.

There’s no direct phone line, no advertising, and customers have to order in advance.

There’s only one size option for pizzas, 18 inches, and two topping choices: cheese or pepperoni.

Still, the pizza is good, and people are starting to notice. This winter, Smiling with Hope Bakery — run by special-needs students at Newark High School — will be featured on Serious Eats, a cluster of websites dedicated to celebrating food.

Walter Gloshinski, Special Education Teacher, musician, and founder of Smiling With Hope, created this video as a thank you to the community for supporting the program:

….[Walter] Gloshinski has a caseload of six students at Newark High School, and they spend most of the day working in the bakery. There are another 10 that stop by just for a class period — Gloshinski’s students go elsewhere during that time for academic training — but to Gloshinski, the important factor is his students are learning while they bake. They’re not just rolling dough and shuttling pans in and out of ovens; they’re learning how to measure, shop, take inventory, follow directions for deliveries and work on a team, even with people they may not like.

Those are all necessary skills for the real world, Gloshinski said, and they are skills that will help his students land jobs later in life.

Read more about Smiling With Hope Bakery here.

See the Smiling With Hope Bakery website with menu here.

Vocational Training for Students with Moderate-Severe Disabilities is Yielding Success

The Los Angeles Unified School District has transformed their transition programs for students with moderate to severe disabilities to provide training for competitve employment (Press-Telegram, January 18, 2014)

Claudia is an obese teenager with developmental disabilities who long had a habit of acting out at her school by dropping to the floor and refusing to move for hours on end.

But since early December, when her school started a nail salon where the students perform manicures for each other as well as paying customers, she hasn’t pulled the stunt once.

“It so profoundly impacts the way she sees herself,” said the school’s principal, Christopher Eaton. “Her entire decorum has changed — she’s cheerier, she’s more positive. It’s just amazing.”

Claudia is a student at the Banneker Special Education Center, which, along with its sister school, the Doyle Career and Transition Center in Gardena, is part of a transformation sweeping through the special-needs strain of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The district is moving toward a model in which all of its 8,000 students with moderate-to-severe disabilities receive some sort of vocational training.

Eaton is the new principal charged with overseeing both Banneker and Doyle, which are located three miles apart, and newly united as a part of the policy shift. (As of next fall, the school will be called Banneker/Doyle Career and Transition Center.)

Since its inception five years ago, Doyle has been a place where adult students ages 18-22 with moderate to severe disabilities such as autism and mental retardation come to pick up skills that give them not only a fighting chance to land a job in a competitive world, but also the life skills to make them happier, better-rounded adults.

Read the article here.

Building Friendships: A Curriculum for Building Community Relationships

The University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) has developed a social skills curriculum designed to teach strategies to people with disabilities on how to create and maintain friendships in the community. The program is free and downloadable from the website, along with a separate download for the activity worksheets. This curriculum can be used by anyone involved in transition and would be beneficial in a life skills class.

Friends- Connecting People with Disabilities and Community Members ThumbnailA manual providing concrete, “how-to” strategies for supporting relationships between people with disabilities and other community members. It describes why such friendships are important to people with disabilities and why it is important to promote community belonging and membership. The manual includes specific activities to guide users in creating a plan for connecting people. This manual is designed for agency staff, but can also be used by parents, support coordinators, teachers, staff, and people with disabilities to support community relationships. Additional Activity Worksheets are available.

Nemours Develops Transition Video Series for Youth with Special Health Care Needs

A new video series for youth with special health care needs has been launched by Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.  The series focuses on transition to adulthood for youth who face taking charge of their own medical care along with seeking employment and living independently.

 The transition from adolescence to independent young adulthood can be an especially challenging time for those with special health care needs. A great deal of planning and forethought is needed to help these patients move from pediatric to adult health care providers, from education to employment and from their family home to independent living when possible.

To help patients, families and caregivers understand the many important issues they face prior to and during this period of transition, Nemours has developed a series of videos now available on YouTube. The videos, made possible by a grant from NYMAC, cover four main areas:




Medical Self-Management

Read the article here (published on PR Web, January 21, 2014)


Employers Provide Work Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Posted in the Mercury News Milpitas Post (San Jose, CA), January 16, 2014

 James Sadeioa, 19, stands with his back toward the kitchen doors, as he concentrates on filling empty pepper shakers that he holds at eye-level near the hanging lights that glow in the interior of Milpitas’ Dave & Buster’s sportsbar.

He is one of three students performing the same task, under the patient gaze of their teacher, David Sorenson, 50, whose class of 10 students with severe disabilities are split into three small groups enacting different tasks at the Dave & Buster’s, Burlington Coat Factory and Sears in the Great Mall on Monday morning.

Sorenson’s students, along with fellow ACCESS post-secondary teacher Stephanie Bentzel’s nine students, make up Milpitas Unified School District’s ACCESS program. The program, created by Bentzel in 2011, aims to give students with severe disabilities access to opportunities to be independent.

When Bentzel came to the Milpitas in 2007, the district was looking to create an educational program for special education students, so she worked with them to start one, taking best practices from other districts’ programs, to serve the students until they turn 22.

Only one student, Kevin Inmany, has graduated from the program so far, and he is currently looking for a job.

“Once they graduate from our program they can either get a job by themselves or with a job coach, or transition into an adult day program,” Bentzel said. “I’m hoping that we have prepared them for their transition into adulthood. It is not the end of the road. We are kind of getting them ready for what they will have to do as an adult.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Find out more about the ACCESS program here.