Tag Archives: transition

Transition and Technology

Chris is a young man in his 20’s who came to Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s BridgingApps program because of his interest in technology. He and his mother wanted to understand how he could use his mobile device to help him be more productive and organized as he began to search for a job.  He owned a smart phone, but his phone was quite old and he didn’t use it for more than the basics, mostly entertainment. Part of the barrier to using his smart phone effectively was that he experienced anxiety about draining the battery, so he preferred to have it plugged into the wall, limiting his mobility.

Through a generous grant from the Hogg Foundation, BridgingApps provided Chris with a new smart phone and “one on one” trainings with Digital Learning Specialist, Tara Rocha.  During one of these sessions, Tara introduced the concept of a using portable rechargeable battery pack to Chris. Because it is small and rechargeable, Chris learned to plug his smart phone into this device that eased his anxiety about draining his battery, allowing him to be more mobile immediately.  He learned how to create calendar appointments, add items to task lists, back up his data, use contacts, and much more. Following each session, Chris has practiced the tasks at home with an at-home assignment.

When Tara demonstrated several app options for filling out forms using his smart phone, Chris became so excited that he could complete this task digitally! He found it difficult and laborious to fill out forms required for job searches and other kinds of forms as he moves into adulthood. Writing has been a challenge for him, but he is much more eager to use his phone for this task. We wish Chris the best of luck as he continues his job search, and we will continue to keep in touch as he makes progress towards his goals.

Cristen Reat, BridgingApps
Easter Seals Greater Houston
https://www.bridgingapps.org/2018/05/chriss-success-story-using-iphone-transition/

 

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Transition Success and Walmart Employee of the Month!

Our Easter Seals Greater Houston Transition team met Paul and his mother last June  as a Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Transition Age Youth Project of Easter Seals Greater Houston/DARS client.  Thanks to the Hogg Foundation, this project offers services and support for persons, ages 16 – 27, who have are on the spectrum and have a co-occurring mental illness and is designed to help youth become more independent and successful in their communities. The many facets of the program include social skills training, supported employment, summer internships, college classes at the Houston Community College VAST Academy, BCBA Services, peer supports, referral assistance, financial coaching, on-line driver’s Education and access to our mobile technology program.

Paul had just graduated from Sam Rayburn High School in Pasadena, Texas. His only work history was as a volunteer through a high school program with a couple of companies in the Pasadena area.  Paul and his parents wanted him to find a part-time job with a number of specific permanents such as close to home, after 4:00 pm and Monday thru Friday.  Together, Paul and his transition counselor, Robert Aranda, created a resume reflecting his volunteer experience and a reference list of his former supervisors.  They met to complete on-line applications, practiced mock interviews and reviewed social skills for interviewing techniques. Paul interviewed with companies through Summer and Fall.

In December, Wal-Mart called Paul in for an interview.  His Transition Counselor says he is a very likable and responsible individual and that he really wants to show his parents that he is able to expand his learning curve and become more independent.  Paul’s interview at Wal-Mart was a hit with the Human Resources Department and he was hired this past December as a Cart Attendant.  Wal-Mart was very accommodating with assisting Paul with the work schedule he needed.  Within two months, Paul’s supervisors noted his work great ethic, enthusiasm and customer service.  Paul was selected Employee of the Month for February!!

Robert Aranda, Transition Specialist, Easter Seals Greater Houston
RAranda@eastersealshouston.org

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Interviewing for the Future

Being a good interviewer is a skill we should all have. I got my first job slicing meats and scooping salads in our grocery store’s deli, but I imagine that’s only because my dad worked there. I was hardly interview ready and showed up wearing jeans. Luckily practice makes perfect and throughout the years I’ve gained the skills necessary to feel confident when I sit across from the person who may or may not make it possible for me to pay my bills. But, teenagers are often terrified of the idea of an interview just as I had once been.HSHT MID 2017-19

Interviewing skills, resume writing, soft skills, and professionalism are all heavily covered topics in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s High School/High Tech and Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) classes. We want our students to ace any interview they walk in to and that takes a lot of practice. Leading up to our annual Mock Interview Day, we talk about what they should wear and how they should answer popular interview questions as well as why they should smile, make eye contact, and have good firm handshakes. We do everything we can to prepare our youth and they usually seem ready to go but inevitably, when they line up in the hallway to begin the first of their three short mock interviews, the panic sets in. I can understand why – our volunteer interviewers are very professionally dressed, sitting tall and stoic in their seats and it immediately makes all of the students doubt their skills and forget everything we taught them. However, over the course of the day, something really great happens. You can see these young people feel confident and proud of themselves. They leave their first interview with a grade sheet that usually tells the same tale – they did well, but have a few things they need to work on. At the second interview, they’ve worked on these shortcomings and did a pretty good job! By their third, they’re old pros comparing near perfect scores with each other in the hallway. Watching a young person believe they can do something well is pretty amazing.

HSHT MID 2017-45This year, Carmen Phillips, the newest member of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s High School/High Tech team, hosted her own Mock Interview Day and included a fun new activity that got students talking with each other and moving around. By making each student their own business cards to share and use for networking with other students, Carmen was able to make every student social. Even the most shy or reserved students made an effort to network with others and talk about themselves in between mock interviews. This was a fun new mock interview day inclusion that we will be using every year to get our youth excited about sharing what they know with other people.

HSHT MID 2017-05Yvonne Kelly and I enjoyed watching students at our Mock Interview Day in League City cut each other in line to be able to do their second or third interviews before one another because they had gotten such great scores and couldn’t wait to do it again! We had a funny and boisterous group this year and they made the day so fun.

Watching all of our youth participate, feel accomplished, and actually be excited about interviewing is such a reward for us as each Mock Interview Day ends. We can’t wait to see what next year brings as we prepare our students for their transition out of high school and into the world of college and work!

Jacquie Privitera Miller, RAMP and Transition Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Thank You to The Woodlands Children’s Museum

IMG_9003The Woodlands Children’s Museum is a very generous community partner with the ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) Infant Program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.  Beginning in September, the museum has offered classroom space for ECI to conduct group sessions for some of the children receiving ECI services.  The group meets one hour, one morning each week.  Typically, four to six children attend group.  One parent attends group with his/her child to offer support, and to observe strategies the family can also use at home.  Each group session is led by an EIS (Early Intervention Specialist) and an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist).  School readiness and communication skills are the goals of the group, preparing the children for community preschools they may attend after they graduate from ECI at 3 years old.  The purpose of group services is to encourage children to attend, participate, and interact with peers and adults to promote successful transition into school.  The EIS and SLP help develop these skills through a variety of hands-on play activities.  As Abraham Maslow states, “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play”.

Themes for the group activities change each month.  The theme is usually related to a children’s book such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly; and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Activities may include interacting with books and songs, movement activities, exploring various textures through play, art, and snacks, and participating in social play with their classmates.

By offering this classroom space, the museum gives IMG_9001children the opportunity to learn in a group setting, which may help them transition easier into preschool.  “Children understand and remember concepts best when they learn from direct personal experience.” (Joseph Cornell)  This partnership demonstrates community agencies working together for the benefit of children, and enhancing their development.  ECI of Easter Seals Greater Houston is very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with The Woodlands Children’s Museum and we hope this community partnership can continue in the future.

Sharon Mott, Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program Transition and Outreach Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Keeping It In Perspective

March 2016 Transition blog by Jacquie

I stumbled across a short poem online the other day.

Cause I ain’t got a pencil
By Joshua T. Dickerson

I woke myself up
Because we ain’t got an alarm clock
Dug in the dirty clothes basket,
Cause ain’t nobody washed my uniform
Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,
Cause the lights ain’t on
Even got my baby sister ready
Cause my mama wasn’t home.
Got us both to school on time,
To eat us a good breakfast.
Then when I got to class the teacher fussed
Cause I ain’t got a pencil.

Despite my making a conscious effort everyday to remember that not everyone’s circumstances are the same, I still need reminding sometimes. I still need to remember some of my students will come to class without something they need simply because they just don’t have it. It isn’t always forgetfulness. It isn’t always laziness. It isn’t always defiance of the rules. Some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time, they just don’t have it. It isn’t because they don’t want to listen and it isn’t because they don’t care.

During my first year with Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s High School/High Tech Program, a student asked what the house I grew up in looked like. I told everyone it was small but my parents took great care of it and made sure it always looked nice. They still do. They have lived in that house for 35 years. The student then said,

So, how big was the downstairs of your house?

I didn’t know and I hadn’t ever really thought about it.

Well, the downstairs is maybe a few feet bigger than this classroom.

My student, who is one of the funniest people I have ever known, laughed and said,

Miss. Do you know how big my whole house is? My ENTIRE house? It’s the size of this corner!

He walked over and held his arms out in a big bear hug stance and stood in the corner showing everyone that his house was as small as that space.

When we eat dinner, all our elbows touch. Me, my mama, my step dad, and my sister. Our elbows touch like this…

and he forced his elbows together in front of himself.  I will miss this kid next year. He is graduating. I am so proud of him but sad for myself.

Everyone laughed watching his theatrics including me, probably more than anyone else. But, it made me think. I’ve always thought of my house as small, but to someone who didn’t have that much, that house was pretty impressive. I’ve always been proud of it because my parents spent so many hours keeping it up and making sure it was the nicest house on our street; and it was and it still is.

I didn’t really realize that I was so fortunate to have things that other people with less might really admire. I had a picture of my parents’ house on my phone. I took it before I moved to Houston three years ago so that I could look at it whenever I got homesick. I showed my students and they all replied with “whoa!” and “that’s a nice house, miss” and “look at your street! It’s like a movie street!” They were right and I hadn’t realized until they said it.

I gain little bits of perspective slowly over time. My students teach it to me; these kids with challenges I have never had to face. What I always thought was average was actually really beautiful to some of them. What I always thought was an unspoken rule – bringing a pen or pencil to all my classes – was easy for me because I had all the things I needed for school. Money was set aside for school supplies and new school clothes every year without thought and without question. Not everyone has that. Some of my students don’t have that. I hope to change it somehow.

I bring spare pens to class now.

-Jacquie Miller, Transition, Easter Seals Greater Houston

To read more posts by Jacquie Miller, visit J-Vibe

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Electronics Recycling Company Partners with Non-Profit Organization to Create Jobs for People with Disabilities

CompuCycle and Easter Seals Greater Houston Join Together for Sustainability Initiative

HOUSTON, TX – (January 29, 2015) – CompuCycle, Houston’s premier electronics recycling company and Easter Seals Greater Houston, the local non-profit organization benefitting individuals in the Greater Houston area living with disabilities, have partnered to provide sustainable employment opportunities and computer proficiency training to citizens with disabilities. jonathan's 2nd paycheck 2

Since this initiative started, CompuCycle has been collecting, auditing and processing all donated products in order to fund a long-term employment program. Through a generous grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Easter Seals Greater Houston has been able to take their partnership with CompuCycle to the next level with a full-time employee and job coach on site. With less than four months of training through Easter Seals Transition Services, CompuCycle made a full-time hire of Jonathan.

Jonathan started receiving Transition Services at Easter Seals in June of 2014 after graduating from Westside High School. Shortly after joining the transition program, he was offered an internship at CompuCycle, which turned into a full-time job. Jonathan now works as a wire cutter. He cuts wires from computer power supply cords, computer batteries, cell phone batteries, network connection cords, coaxial cables and phone jacks. He then sorts the components cut from the cables into specified bins. Jonathan also performs other duties like disassembling computer fans and removing scrap metal from cell phone and laptop circuits.

Easter Seals Greater Houston CEO, Elise Hough, was thrilled to find a partner in CompuCycle. “Our clients have a difficult time finding employment, and often, an even harder time maintaining these jobs. What’s most exciting for us is that through comprehensive training, our clients will have job skills that aren’t only applicable to their work at CompuCycle, but for the rest of their lives.”

“CompuCycle greatly enjoys working with Easter Seals; the program is truly a win-win for everyone,” said Kelly Hess, President of CompuCycle.  “Corporations can responsibly dispose of equipment that they no longer need, or don’t know what to do with, using CompuCycle, a certified company, to safely refurbish the equipment. Through dropping off these goods with us, these businesses are also simultaneously donating to a terrific initiative, and helping to create jobs for people with disabilities.”

CompuCycle is a R2:2013, OSHAS 18001 and ISO 14001:2004 certified, responsible electronics recycling company providing safe, secure and certified recycling and data destruction to Houstonians.  Easter Seals Greater Houston offers a range of services to infants, adults, and families with disabilities, including employment preparedness and training. For a list of accepted products, please visit the CompuCycle website.

For more information about Easter Seals Greater Houston and its Transition Services, please visit www.eastersealshouston.org or contact Robert Williams at 832-834-4170 or rwilliams@eastersealshouston.org.

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