This summer, 72 students with disabilities gained work experience thanks to a longstanding partnership between Traverse Bay Intermediate School District, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and Disability Network. The three entities teamed together to provide opportunities for students to gain employment, learn how to be a self-advocate, and gain the skills needed to successfully transition from high school into adulthood.
The groups partnered with 17 local businesses to employ youth with various disabilities in part-time, entry level positions. Students worked for eight weeks (June 17th – August 9th) at the peak of the busy season in Northern Michigan. "Our Summer Employment Program is successful because each of our partners shares their expertise, opening opportunities and enhancing growth for students. The outcome is clear when students are being hired immediately after their work experience," said Jessie Bachmann, Program Manager at Disability Network.
Partnering employment sites included Bay Area Recycling for Charities, Spring Lake State Campground, Brown Lumber Company, Lake Ann State Forest Campground, Northern Lumber Company, Interlochen State Park, Family Fare on 8th Street, Lake Ann State Forest Campground, Family Fare at Chums Corner, Traverse City State Park, Glen’s Market in Frankfort, Cambria Suites, Glen’s Market in Kalkaska, the YMCA, Glen’s Market in Mancelona, Grand Traverse Civic Center, and Glen’s Market in Bellaire.
During the eight weeks, the students learned and gained a variety of entry-level job skills that cannot be taught in a classroom environment. Of the 72 students, 11 are graduating/exiting students without post-secondary educational plans. Eight students out of the 11 graduating/exiting students (73%) were offered permanent employment opportunities to continue working with their respected employer. "We have to be realistic about the goals of the students and be willing to advocate for what is best for each student," stated Bachmann.
To learn more about the Summer Youth Employment Program, contact Jessie Bachmann at 231.922.0903, ext. 13.
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