Students in some Illinois school districts receive early education on disability and independent living and employment, thanks to an initiative that incorporates three different curricula, implemented through the community partner “RAMP“, an Illinois non-residential Center for Independent Living. By working with school districts to incorporate these programs, barriers are being dismantled and attitudes changed about people with disabilities being successful in society.
RAMP created a continuum of services that help to strengthen and build the educational and economic success for people with disabilities.
The iBelong curriculum is designed for elementary students as young as pre-K while the Ignite curriculum is designed for middle school students. The teens in Transition curriculum (T’NT) is designed to work with teenagers as they transition to adulthood.
IBelong is taught pre-K thru through sixth grade to all students. The goal is to promote acceptance by teaching children early and consistently that we have more in common with each other than not.
Students in seventh and eighth grade who have disabilities can use the Ignite curriculum to learn more about themselves so they can become better self-advocates.
RAMP’s third curriculum is Teens in Transition. It is designed to help teenagers with disabilities prepare for their transition into adulthood. T’NT aims to increase students’ chances of becoming young adults prepared to further their education, gain employment, responsibly manage a budget and live independently in the community.
The approaches taken by RAMP have left a lasting impression on students. A Rockford teacher said: “I feel as though having RAMP and the community partners come in to teach the lessons helped the students learn about these topics better than just having the teacher teach about it.”
Read the article here.
Read more about RAMP here.
A Chicago district has developed a “Next Steps” team to aid families of students with disabilities in helping to prepare their student for adulthood.
“Next Steps” is a District 202 Vocational Education Team that assists parents and caregivers with planning, transitioning and advocating for their children with disabilities.
The Next Steps team aims to improve delivery of services to families of students with disabilities; increase family awareness of disability options and resources; and link families in need to agencies that can support them with issues related to transition.
Read more here.
When employers are educated on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, all sorts of doors open for job seekers and employers alike.
Think Beyond the Label is one organization that educates with and provides network opportunities for businesses and job seekers with disabilities.
Think Beyond the Label is a public-private partnership that delivers information, outreach and resources to businesses, job seekers and the public workforce system to ensure greater recruiting and hiring opportunities for job candidates with disabilities.
One of the sucess stories on the website (a couple of years old, but the program is still running) is about an Auto Dealership in Georgia that has developed Cafe Blends: Blending Autism into the Workplace. Since its inception, several of the dealerships locations have opened Cafe Blends at their locations.
Café Blends got its start as a pilot program at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Tampa, Fla., in 2011. The Tampa café was so successful the company began a corporate initiative to expand the cafes to Atlanta. There are now three locations in Atlanta and one in Greenville, S.C.
Each café employs three baristas and one supervisor, who also serves as a job coach. The program involves not only training the participants, ages 18 to 28, as baristas, but also educating dealership employees about autism and how to help integrate the cafe workers into store operations.
“Asbury’s Café Blends initiative has become a remarkable success among both our employees and our customers. We feel very privileged to have this opportunity to raise awareness and create job opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum,” says Craig Monaghan, president and CEO of Asbury Automotive Group.
Read more here.