April 18, 2019  

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Alternative Spring Break Will Assist Teens with Disabilities in Planning for Future

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USM's Institute for Disability Studies is hosting an alternative spring break March 11-15.

Teens and young adults with disabilities can be surprisingly direct about their futures. Some want to go to college. Some want to work. All want to be independent and make decisions about how they will live their lives. Some young people simply need some guidance to help them decide how to achieve their choices.

The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies’ ToTAL project is a work-based training and internship program for youth and young adults ages 14 to 21 that is assisting young people with disabilities in developing a path for their transition to adulthood.

During the week of March 11-15, the ToTAL project will work with 20 young adults through an alternative spring break event. To be held in Hattiesburg at Southern Miss, the week-long training session will focus on activities such as goal setting, work readiness, college exploration and developing an electronic portfolio.

“A lot of high school students with disabilities may think, ‘I have a disability, so what’s next for me?’ ” said Danielle Parks, LMSW, Transition Specialist for ToTAL. “The main goal we want to achieve through Alternative Spring Break is for these young adults with disabilities to leave with the belief that they do have the possibility of achieving their dream of employment after high school.

“We want them to leave with skills that will help them on their path to employment. Attendees will be participating in activities such as introducing themselves, mock interviewing, developing a resume, going on job shadow experiences, learning healthy lifestyle habits, exploring college options, and developing videos to share their personal stories. By the end of the week, each student will leave with their own professional portfolio.”

ToTAL concentrates on five key planning areas for young adults transitioning to adulthood: job exploration counseling, workforce readiness training, work-based learning experiences, self-advocacy training and post-secondary education counseling and training. The ToTAL project is funded through the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.

For more information or to register for the event, contact Danielle Parks at 601.266.5962 or alyssa.parks@usm.edu.