Updated: Jul 12, 2022
One group of high school students with disabilities completed the June session of the Transition Summer Program and a new session is about to launch! This unique program centers around vocational training which allows high school students with disabilities (ages 14 – 22) to learn and explore their options. Since navigating the transition into the workforce from high school looks different for each student, the program works to provide a well-rounded experience
“The summer months allow us the opportunity to provide activities for the students that we don’t otherwise have during the school year due to class schedules,” said Lisa Kay, Associate Director of Employment Services. “Each week looks different but is packed with activities.”
These activities include volunteering in the community to gain work experience, learning how to travel independently by utilizing the public bus system, touring businesses to learn about job opportunities, and welcoming guest speakers related to employment. For example, speakers from WorkOne spoke about services available to students, Officer Sweeney from the South Bend Police Department shared about jobs in law enforcement and identity protection and the vice president of Northwest Bank stopped in to talk about opening a bank account and the importance of saving and budgeting.
Tours included Ginger Valley Garden Center and Krispy Kreme to learn about the operations and job opportunities available.
Students participated in Q&A panel questions where they were able to ask 3 different individuals with disabilities about the challenges and successes of holding their jobs. The panel members included one person who had been at their job for 11 years and another for 28 years. The third-panel member was a high school student who shared the challenges and rewards of working while attending high school.
“I was impressed with how many questions they asked,” said Lisa. “They were very interested in learning about our panelists’ job experience, even asking questions about the interview process."
The students learn how to work well together and follow written and verbal instructions in team-building activities. Wednesdays were a favorite day as the students get creative with food, making walking tacos, chocolate-dipped treats, fruit kabobs with dip, puppy chow, and snow cones. They also worked together to make Central Park and Bendix Park litter-free.
Tuesdays are a favorite also when students participate in a shark-tank-themed activity developing their own business and product. This is an ongoing project, and they will present their business plan at the end of the summer.
The Transition Summer Program began in 2017 when Corvilla teamed up with local high schools to give students with disabilities access to career planning to help them reach their employment goals, education, or post-secondary training. Local schools that participate include Career Academy, Penn Young Adults, Elkhart West, Jimtown, Concord, Fairfield, Northwood, Northridge, and Goshen.