May 25, 2019  

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USM Hosts Alternative Spring Break for High School Students with Disabilities

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Alternative Spring Break participants, from left to right: Jordan, Christian, Ameer, Hoy, David and Anna.

For one group of Hattiesburg-area high school students, Spring Break 2019 is not about the sand, the sun or the water — it’s about preparing for the future. 

This week (March 11-15), the Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL) Program at The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies is hosting an Alternative Spring Break on the Hattiesburg campus focused on preparing high school students with disabilities for employment.

Funded by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alternative Spring Break provides training through a combination of hands-on training, classroom setting training and community-based learning opportunities. Participants are exploring college options, examining work opportunities, setting personal goals, learning to become a self-advocate and developing a personal electronic portfolio.

“Students are attending this week-long training event focused on various employment skills from following directions, developing a resume to practicing interviewing skills,” said Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, associate director of the Institute for Disability Studies. “Attending college is traditionally considered a path to employment, and these spring break participants are making the most of their time here this week at USM.”

Participant Anna Moudy said, “This program has helped me to learn about the different types of stress and how to relieve stress. I also learned how to follow directions better when we created pottery.”

“My favorite part has been going on the campus tour of USM and seeing the campus,” said Jordan Haynes. “I enjoyed having the opportunity to be active on the actual football field, ‘The Rock.’ ”

Daily activities are scheduled for Alternative Spring Break through Friday afternoon, and parents are invited to participate in the closing session. For more information, contact Danielle Parks, LMSW, at 601.266.5962 or alyssa.parks@usm.edu.