Independence, Ohio – July 26, 2017 – Koinonia Homes, a leading provider of day programs, residential and employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities, has received a $30,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to expand an innovative pilot program that prepares students to live as independent and self-reliant adults.
The program, entitled ASPIRE, was developed in a partnership that includes Koinonia, the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board and Woodridge Local Schools in Peninsula, Ohio. The program is also being piloted in Fairlawn-Copley City Schools in Copley, Ohio, with another provider.
Summit County funded the two-year pilot program with $125,000 allocated to each of the two providers to develop programs aimed at improving graduation and employment rates for eligible students with developmental disabilities. Koinonia’s program features an innovative, experiential curriculum that coaches many skills needed to gain employment or become accepted to college after high school.
Work skills are trained through personal instruction, online learning, and video modeling. Topics such as transportation training, interpersonal communications, and organizational awareness are designed to enhance self-confidence and work-readiness. Students will also be offered internships, workplace tours, and opportunities to volunteer as they explore individual paths.
High school graduation for young adults with developmental disabilities is often delayed until age 22. Many graduates then transfer to day programs, where they receive job training, while they pursue employment. The early skills training is designed to improve graduation and employment rates.
ASPIRE provides a direct path toward self-reliance by reshaping expectations and encouraging students to envision a future that better resembles that of their peers. By starting the transition process earlier, students with developmental disabilities have both a direction and time to develop skills needed to reach their goals.
The program empowers students to pursue a life of independence, community integration, and greater personal fulfillment. By achieving these goals, the program will ultimately lower dependence on adult day programs and corresponding Medicaid costs, expand an able workforce and significantly benefit the economy and our communities.
“We’re very excited to expand this program because it represents a systemic change in the opportunities for young adults with developmental disabilities,” said Diane Beastrom, Koinonia president and CEO. “This program enables students to not only envision greater possibilities for their futures but also to develop the skills and see a direct pathway.”
Program administrators plan to expand the program throughout and beyond Summit County, Beastrom added. Details of the expansion are being finalized this summer.