Avery was among six high school seniors who participated in the STEP program at Boone Hospital. He was the first of the six to score the very positive outcome of full time employment with benefits. He has the satisfaction of knowing he’s not graduating to the couch, as is too often the case for youth with developmental disabilities. STEP, a partnership between the hospital, Columbia Public Schools, ACT, Vocational Rehabilitation and Boone County Family Resources, is an example of collaboration intended to improve employment outcomes for transitioning youth with developmental disabilities.
Through STEP, Avery received educational instruction and job development training at Boone Hospital from a high school teacher, a Career Specialist from ACT, and from a Life & Work Connections Community Skills Specialist (CSS). He worked at the hospital in an internship with the Linen Department and received job support on site and in an individual setting in order to build appropriate work skills. CSS phased out by the end of December because he was performing his internship duties independently with natural supports from his co-workers. Avery was offered a position in the Linen Department in March, which he accepted.
Coordinated supports helped Avery to gain work experiences and develop employment skills in a setting that was appropriate for and targeted to his hands-on learning style. In turn, he secured a full-time position with benefits and paid vacation time and is working with people that he has built a strong work-relationship with.
Avery provides this feedback regarding his experience:
1. How did the STEP program prepare you to get a job? “It helped me learn how to get along with co-workers. I learned a lot of people skills.”
2. What do you like best about your new job? “I really like my co-workers.”
3. What are you proud of achieving through this process? “I’m proud of learning how to get along with co-workers.”
4. How has the STEP made a difference for you? “It got me my job. I feel very lucky to have gotten in the STEP Program which led to my full-time job.”
So far, half the participants in STEP’s first year have secured community-based jobs. We congratulate Avery and his peers for helping make the pilot program a success for years to come.
Pictured to the left are STEP participants Jared, Andrew, Avery, Tim, Kalina and Tyler.