Disability Network Southwest Michigan offers a number of programs centered on providing valuable training and experience to youth and young adults with disabilities, whether they are transitioning to employment or continuing their education. In the past year, we have worked in nearly half the high schools throughout our region and have assisted youth in all eight counties we represent.
Our Independent Living staff provide training programs to assist students with disabilities transition to post-secondary school, whether it be college or a trade school. Moving from a familiar high school environment to a post-secondary school can bring a new set of expectations and stresses. We work with students to help them learn how to ask for accommodations and establish routines that will make their school experience successful.
We also offer school-to-work training programs for young adults with disabilities in both group and individual settings within schools. The curriculum focuses on pre-employment training services aimed at getting students ready to enter the working world; topics include career exploration, employment soft skills, self-advocacy and financial literacy & budgeting.
Charting the Course: Meet Bradley
Bradley, a young man who is autistic, was referred to Disability Network by a concerned family member. He was facing significant challenges living at home and wanted to gain some independence. Our staff worked with Bradley to help him find his own apartment and work on his independent living skills.
Disability Network staff encouraged Bradley to enroll in Project Search to gain employment training and experience. Project Search is a business-led school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace to provide a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training. As a partner in Project Search, our staff continued working with Bradley to overcome barriers to successful employment. Staff provided independent living skills training, including transportation and soft-skills training to help him understand the expectation of a work environment.
Bradley did such a great job during his Project Search training at Lakeland Hospital, they hired him as a permanent employee at the end of the program.
Our partnership in Project Search is one way Disability Network helps prepare young adults with disabilities for their path forward. At Disability Network Southwest Michigan, we are helping people with disabilities chart their course to increased independence in a more inclusive community. We cannot do this important work without your support.