By April Helms Reporter, MyTownNEO, August 7, 2018: Summer jobs are often seen as a rite of passage for teens, a means of earning both money and critical job experience. Summit DD Community Supports and Development expanded its youth summer work program in May to allow more teens with developmental disabilities gain employment.
This critical experience which the students can put on their resumes will make the transition to permanent employment easier.
For example, teens Melody Brajer, Jere’maiah Smith, Ashley White and Tyrese White worked with the city of Stow to repaint and retape the city’s
numerous fire hydrants. They enjoyed a pizza party Aug. 2 to celebrate the end of the summer program.
“We’re walking around and getting good exercise,” said Ashley, 18, of Akron. “We’re meeting new people.”
Jere’maiah, 16, from Akron, said he liked the “good, positive feedback from the community.”
“People would come out and ask us what we were doing, and we’d tell them, and they’d say what a good job we were doing,” Jere’maiah said.
Utility Superintendent Jeffrey B. Shaver said what the teens were doing was not just “busy work,” but a great help to the city.
Melody, 18, from Stow, said she was “looking forward to going to the University of Akron,” where she plans study to be a social worker.
Ashley said she wanted to become a tattoo artist; her younger brother Tyrese, 17, said he hadn’t decided on his career path just yet.
“I want to go to Texas U. and play football and baseball,” said Jere’maiah, who added he also wanted to learn about being a technician.
Melody said she liked the opportunity to work for the city over the summer.
“We were making connections with job coaches, that was cool,” Melody said. “We’re making connections for our future with this summer job. And, I got to meet the mayor [James Costello].”
Each of the teens also was given a certificate for their work over the summer; those certificates also contained a blue ribbon, made from the fire hydrant tape they had used to mark the hydrants.
Phil Gibson, a job coach with Koinonia Inc. which is based in Cleveland, said the program work with teens on independence and leadership skills.
“They worked very hard,” Gibson said. “It was an honor working with them.”
This is the second year working with the city, said Matt Magaw, job coach with Koinonia.
“This is a nice skill builder to put on their resume,” Magaw said. “Stow is great to work with.”