The event focused on ways to empower young adults with disabilities to successfully transition to adult life.
On Monday, February 19, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) was invited to coordinate a day-long in-service training for staff of the Nellie M. Reddix Center in San Antonio. The Reddix Center’s mission is to transition students from school life to adult life through the use of person-centered planning and by encouraging higher expectations for young adults and their families. The Reddix Center provides transition services to approximately 300 young adults with disabilities and it is part of San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (ISD).
The information provided during the training focused on the theme of young adults with disabilities achieving independence and being included in their communities. TCDD seeks input from the public to inform our projects and advocacy work, and the Reddix Center staff provided valuable feedback throughout the day regarding the barriers they – and the young adults they work with — face as they try to find competitive jobs, coordinate transportation, and become active community members.
The day kicked-off with a focus group discussion that was facilitated by TCDD’s executive director, Beth Stalvey. Reddix Center staff talked about how implementing person-centered planning has helped young adults be more self-determined and that parents should be challenged to have higher expectations for their children with disabilities when they transition to adult life. TCDD policy specialist Linda Logan spoke to the group about education policy issues. Logan covered the history of inclusion and community-integration and illustrated how policies and laws are trending toward increased community inclusion for people with disabilities.
Some of TCDD’s past and current grantees shared their work during the in-service training. At any given time, TCDD funds approximately 30 projects around the state of Texas. Some projects are related to self-advocacy, leadership development training, civil rights, and employment. The grantees listed below shared information about their projects:
- Representatives from Texas Advocates encouraged self-advocates to speak up for themselves, and teachers and employers were encouraged to have higher expectations for young adults with disabilities.
- Jeff Miller from Disability Rights Texas spoke about how alternatives to guardianship and supported decision-making can be used so people with disabilities can be independent and make their own choices.
- Cynthia Burrow shared information about the Virtual Job Coach, an online tool that helps people with disabilities gain and maintain meaningful employment.
- Jane Borochoff from The H.E.A.R.T. Program talked about a transition project she is coordinating with Houston ISD and the Houston Food Bank.
More than 20 Reddix Center staff participated in the in-service training. At the end of the event, Reddix Center staff indicated they were encouraged by what they learned and enjoyed hearing about similar programs from around the state. Many planned to connect with presenters about specific programs.
“We appreciated the opportunity to connect with Reddix Center staff to gain insights from people who work in transition every day,” said Stalvey. “We also enjoy sharing the work of our grantees and how their projects are making a difference in the lives of Texans with disabilities.”