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Interagency Collaboration: A Win-Win for Delaware Students

A Dover hospital, school district, and Vocational Rehabilitation have formed a partnership to provide employment experiences for students with cognitive disabilities.

Bayhealth, the Capital School District and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation have formed a partnership designed to help students with cognitive disabilities gain job training and work experience through internships.

This new program, Project SEARCH, will kick off at the beginning of the next school year. Students with special needs, between the ages of 18 and 21, who have completed the credits required to graduate high school will be given the opportunity to spend their final school year participating in three 10-week internships at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital, with job coaching provided by the Department for Vocational Rehabilitation.

“The vision for the program is that students will have a strong resume and a skill set, which will make them marketable in a competitive job market,” said Joyce Denman, supervisor of special education for the Capital School District.

Read more here.

Alternative College Provides Opportunities for Learning and Teaching

A New Hampshire organization, Global Campuses Foundation, has created a model of post-secondary education where people with disabilities have many opportunities to learn and to teach classes in the areas of their best knowledge.

As an alternative college, Global Campuses sees “what is called a disability as a unique and positive life experience,” said Jim Tewksbury, of Randolph Center, who founded Global Campuses with his wife, Sheryl Tewksbury.

“This is all based on, really, there is no such thing as a disability. It is a socially constructed reality,” Jim Tewksbury said Saturday in a telephone interview from Thailand, where he works part of the year. Global Campuses “is about a paradigm shift in, What is advanced education?”

Tewksbury laid out what he calls the “first foundational principle.”

“We are all 100 percent whole people,” he said. “We are all holders of knowledge.”

Global Campuses, he said, is simply “broadening the hallways” and letting in people with different learning styles and approaches to that “wonderful opportunity of what it means to feel smart, what it means to have somebody interested in what you hold for knowledge in the topics that you are passionate about.”

….Long-time educators, the Tewksburys are strong believers in the power of learning. After working with a variety of “disenfranchised people,” including people with disabilities, they began to wonder how to create opportunities “for people who do not have access to this transformative experience,” Jim Tewksbury said.

The couple had spent time in Thailand and saw it as a good place to start the program. “In this part of the world, a little bit of success really made significant difference,” he said.

….Unlike traditional college students, Shiremont students do not graduate or earn degrees. But some of the perks are the same. Participants receive an ID card, which can be used for student discounts and as a library card at Lebanon libraries. Global Campuses holds student conferences, and classes are sometimes broadcast from one site to another. “They love that because they can teach to another community, and they end up talking a lot about their campuses,” Eberhardt said.

Read more here (Valley News, January 26, 2014).

Read about Global Campuses here.

Celebrating our 100th Post

Transition Universe celebrates its 100th post today, highlighting the ongoing advocacy for transition of youth with disabilities to the adult world with our post on legislation regarding the Workforce Investment Act.

Transition Universe will continue to provide resources and information, news items, programs and support for everyone involved in transition.

Look for the upcoming “Spotlight on Transition” posts which will feature interviews from professionals, parents and students involved in transition.

The authors at Transition Universe would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support in developing this website. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated!

Proponents of ABLE Act Speak out

Advocates of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013 (ABLE Act) are speaking out in an effort to get it signed into law:

“My name is Sara Wolff. I am a 31 year-old from Moscow, Pennsylvania, who happens to have Down syndrome but that doesn’t stop me from achieving “my” better life. I work as a law clerk and also at Keystone Community Resources in the Office of Advocacy. I am a board member of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). I’m calling on Congress to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647), a bill that will help individuals with disabilities to save for their futures.

I’m 31 years old, and I happen to have Down syndrome. I have two jobs, and lead an independent life, however, when my mom died suddenly last year, things got a lot harder for me and my family. I want to support myself and save money for my future, but if I save more than $2,000, I’ll lose the benefits I depend on like Medicaid and Social Security.

That’s because of a law that says that people with disabilities like me can’t have more than $2,000 in assets or we risk losing the benefits we need to live. For me, living on my own, that means I can’t even save enough to put down rent and a security deposit on an apartment. This law keeps me dependent on other people, and that’s really scary now that my mom is gone.

But, there is a solution: the ABLE Act.

When the ABLE Act passes into law this year, it will change my life forever. I lost my mother this past year, Connie, to a sudden, rapid illness. With my whole life ahead of me, I need an ABLE account to plan for my future. And, I am not alone, like most individuals with disabilities, people with Down syndrome and other conditions are out living their parents.

Read the rest of the post and view the petition here .

This video from Our Special Voice explains the ABLE Act in a little more detail:

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.


Happy New Year!

Being Thankful


Transition Universe would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.  A special thanks for all who work and live with our students with disabilities:  educators, counselors, families, paraeducators, health care providers.

A very special thanks to our students who fill our lives with joy and inspiration!

Youth Employment and Training Program helps participants learn about working world article 

(NOTE:  Readers have to answer a two question survey to be able to read the entire article).

When Megan Mountain considered working at Sweetwater Retirement Community, she recalled living with her grandmother while growing up.

“When they asked me if I liked working with older people, I said I did,” said Mountain, 17. “They said this would be a good fit for me.”

Mountain started working at Sweetwater through the Youth Employment and Training Program administered by the Human Resources Development Council. The program, funded with a grant from federal workforce training money, provides education, training and on-the-job experience for young people who face barriers to employment.

New agreement aims to find jobs for students with disabilities

Mansfield News Journal (Ohio) article

A new agreement Monday among local schools and developmental disabilities services in Richland County aims to help find students with disabilities jobs.

Read more here.