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Reaching Out to Transition-Age Youth Through Leadership and Employment Training Cheryl Grenwelge Jackie Pacha Leena Jo Landmark Dan Dalun Zhang.

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Presentation on theme: "Reaching Out to Transition-Age Youth Through Leadership and Employment Training Cheryl Grenwelge Jackie Pacha Leena Jo Landmark Dan Dalun Zhang."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reaching Out to Transition-Age Youth Through Leadership and Employment Training Cheryl Grenwelge Jackie Pacha Leena Jo Landmark Dan Dalun Zhang

2 Question: Youth with disabilities need self-determination and employment skills to successfully transition to adulthood; so, how do they acquire these skills?

3 Answers: Extensive and intensive training Real life experiences Expanded opportunities to participate Extensive and intensive training Real work experiences Expanded opportunities to participate

4 History of the YLF California –Originated in 1992 –38 states currently conduct statewide YLFs Why have this forum? –The ADA has created unprecedented opportunities for young people with disabilities to fully develop as positive, contributing members of our society. –The YLF enables them to learn from each other and from successful adults with disabilities.

5 Who participates in YLFs? Youth with disabilities who demonstrate leadership potential, academic success, involvement in extra-curricular activities, community involvement and the ability to interact effectively with other students –Selected through an application process

6 Why is the YLF only for students with disabilities? Critical that youth with disabilities learn to identify themselves with pride as there are many successful individuals within the disability community YLF offers youth with disabilities the opportunity to learn from others who have similar life experiences –LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE

7 What occurs at a YLF? Youth –Identify existing challenges to personal and professional success and develop strategies to overcome those challenges –Learn to manage their independence –Develop “Personal Leadership Plans” which include specific action items for the youth when they return to their communities

8 YLF Program Components Programs include: –Small and large group discussions –Leadership and advocacy training –Trips to the state Capitol that include mock legislative sessions and meetings with state legislators –A talent and variety show –A dance –A celebratory luncheon Topics include: –Choosing a career –Understanding the history of disability as a culture –Assistive technology for independence –Available resources Presenters include: –Disability community leaders –Legislators –Celebrities –Other adult role models who have disabilities

9 What makes YLFs successful? Planning –Includes youth involvement –Includes Project Advisory Committee Accessible environment Trained, professional, high quality staff and volunteers Community involvement –Partnerships and collaboration with other agencies serving or assisting youth with disabilities –Family involvement and support

10 What makes YLFs successful? Mentoring –Peer and adult role models/mentors/ facilitators include people with disabilities Relevant and research-based training Hands-on, experiential, and varied activities –Focus on each individual youth’s needs, assets and interests –Varied opportunities for progressive leadership and advocacy roles for youth

11 How much does it cost? Free of charge to delegates (youth participants) Average cost is approximately $1500 per delegate, not including thousands of dollars for services and goods provided in-kind by volunteer supporters

12 Texas YLF Model

13 Texas Statewide YLF Goals To form a statewide YLF training network by working with regional YLFs To increase leadership skills of 30 youth with disabilities a year To train state and national level advocates and leaders To demonstrate the effectiveness of YLFs by conducting data-based research

14 Texas Statewide YLF Program Components Typical components –Examples: intensive training on university campus, visits to the State Capitol, etc. Unique components –Majority of the youth are already trained on basic skills through their regional YLF programs –Youth implement leadership plan-of-actions throughout the year with assistance provided by assigned advisors –A 2 day follow up celebratory event in the spring where youth share their experiences, celebrate successes, and plan for future leadership activities –Pre and post curriculum-based evaluations

15 Texas Statewide YLF Delegates 30 high school juniors and seniors Selected from across the state –4 step application process Review completed applications Initial screenings Interviews Final selections –Priority given to Texas regional YLF trainees

16 Texas Statewide YLF Successes Texas Statewide YLF youth have: –Lead their own IEP/ARD meetings –Started a business –Attended college –Mentored other youth –Spoke to educators at their regional Education Service Centers about the importance of leadership and advocacy opportunities –Utilized each other as a network for problem- solving and support


18 Importance of Work Experiences Nationally, 65-70% of adults with disabilities are not employed (NOD, 2004) Better postschool outcomes are achieved when youth with disabilities have real work experiences (Benz & Lindstrom, 1997) Youth with disabilities often lack employment opportunities that their same age peers without disabilities receive Youth with disabilities do not generalize skills well and need real work experiences Schools have a difficult time providing real work experiences –Why? Limited funding, time, and staff; lack of knowledge of successful models; weak community relations; low expectations; uncertainty regarding how to integrate academics and career preparation; etc.

19 What is the BVEP? Employment project designed to develop model demonstration sites in the Brazos Valley –Assist schools in developing programs to provide real employment experiences to students with disabilities Goal: –Improve the employability of secondary students with disabilities in the Brazos Valley –Provide technical assistance, training, and funding to schools –Assist in developing cooperative partnerships between schools and employers

20 Process 1.Form PAC –Individuals with disabilities, parents of secondary students with disabilities, educators, and business people from throughout the Brazos Valley 2.Develop application process 3.Choose model demonstration sites –Applications sent to all districts, special education directors, and high school principals –2 schools per year (total of 6 during grant period)

21 Process 4.Develop each school’s work plan –Present information about different models to school Examples: CTE, WBL, Service Learning, Customized Employment, School-Based Enterprise, Supported Employment –Identify the program(s) the school currently has and what type of program the school would ideally like to have –Determine the steps needed to move from the current program to the ideal program Training, ongoing technical assistance, funding for equipment or transportation, etc. –Obtain support and approval for this work plan from school officials

22 Process 5.Assist school with development of local transition team (LTT) –Encourage participation and collaboration from community businesses and agencies –Identify the direction of the work experience programs –Identify and create community employment and training opportunities for students –Solve problems –Help identify on-going sources of support to sustain

23 Process 6.Hold Disability in the Workplace seminar –Attendees: Employers, human resources staff, educators, agencies –Information on the benefits of hiring people with individuals –Testimonies from employees and employers –Local networking opportunities –Catered lunch –Resource packet –Certificate and plaque

24 BVEP Successes To date, BVEP has: –Established a regional network of educators and employers –Selected 2 model demonstration schools and developed their work plans School-based enterprise Work-based learning –Scheduled to hold the Disability in the Workplace seminar National, state, and local speakers Employees with disabilities Employers of individuals with disabilities

25 Questions for us??? Cheryl Grenwelge Jackie Pacha Leena Jo Landmark Dan Dalun Zhang

26 Support and Funding Information Both the Texas YLF and the BVEP are affiliated projects of the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University. Financial support for the Texas Statewide YLF is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, ($250,000) and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services ($75,000). Financial support* for the Brazos Valley Employment Project is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, with federal funds made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities. *$375,000 DD funds; $137,000 non-federal resources

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