Two lead programs of the Intersect for Ability collaborative network of developmental disability agencies were presented at the 2011 Annual Convention of the Arc of Illinois and The Autism Program on April 27 and 28.
Lori Opiela and Laura Gonzalez of Seguin Services presented "Building Bridges to the Future: A Model Transition Project." The project consists of six organizations (Seguin, Clearbrook, Park Lawn, Elim Christian Services, Helping Hand Center and PACTT) providing students and their parents with coaching, linkages to financial, medical and legal resources, and adult services training experiences to ensure students successfully transition from educational systems to adulthood. Central to the effort are Transition Outreach Specialists at each lead agency who link with area high schools to identify and support transitioning students and their families. The session highlighted the accomplishments of the effort which includes support to over 450 families and participation in more than 150 Individualized Education Programs for students preparing to transition since the inception of the program in August, 2009.
The session run by Susan Kaufman, Sheila Lullo, Shannon Paul and Sara Bartels from Clearbrook highlighted elements of Intersect's GRACE project (Generating Resources for Aging Through Collaborative Energies), a combined effort of Clearbrook, Seguin, Misericordia, Park Lawn, Elim Christian Services and Little Friends. This project developed training for staff who work with aging individuals with developmental disabilities to prepare them to better serve this growing population. Attendees of the session experienced a small sampling of the training exercises designed to create emapthy on the part of direct support professionals (DSPs) for changes experienced by aging program participants. These exercises along with simple program activities for aging adults with developmental disabilities are part of a comprehensive program manual produced as part of the effort. Training programs which teach DSPs about physical changes, age-related diseases and best practice programs, as well as recommended modifications to day and residential programs are occuring across the Intersect for Ability network, improving the ability of members to deliver excellent services to a growing population.