NILP’s Youth Services Program is truly a collaboration with local schools, community agencies, and businesses. Our philosophy of role modeling and peer counseling, with other individuals with disabilities, empowers students to make changes in their lives and become more self-sufficient and self-reliant.
Currently, we are partnering with 39 schools in the Merrimack Valley and beyond. Serving students between the ages of 14-22, our Transition to Adulthood Program teaches them life skills while they’re in school, and our Pre-Employment Transition Services focuses on preparing students for the workplace.
Thanks to our partnerships with over 20 community agencies and local businesses, students in our afterschool and summer programs benefit from mentors in the community. Some of these organizations also provide students in our Pre-Employment Transition Services program the opportunity to gain real-world experience through internships.
Our Driver’s Manual training has become one of our most well-known programs. Five years ago, our students expressed an overwhelming interest in getting their licenses. Unfortunately, many programs do not understand the accessibility necessities of students with disabilities and therefore were not equipped to assist with accommodations. Since NILP is peer-based, we could meet this need. Since taking on this call, we have continued to get a flood of requests.
What makes our curriculum effective is that it meets the learning styles of our students. Students participate in app-based quizzes and use a gaming system that offers driving simulation. Our staff are constantly looking for new ways to make studying fun and engaging! This interactive environment creates amazing immersion learning and opportunities to socialize with their peers.
The training has even started to expand to meet the needs of people with disabilities over 22. The demand has been recognized and requested by our Independent Living Vocational Rehabilitation program through referrals from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.
Student Success Story
Adi’s goal has always been to get his learner’s permit. Starting with Youth Services in 2020, he had finally found a program that understood him. A space for him to socialize and make lasting connections, while developing independent living skills.
Adi was first involved in TAP (Transition to Adulthood Program). While at school, he was practicing skills such as communication, managing finances, and transportation. He then transitioned to PRE-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services), focusing on workplace readiness and job exploration. Finally, he attended our MA Driver’s Manual Training.
After Adi completed our Youth Program last summer, we hadn’t heard from him. Then in October, he came to our Annual Meeting & Open House. The first thing he said to us was, “I passed my learner’s permit test!” We couldn’t have been prouder!
Some of our students may never end up driving, but they still want the opportunity to try. This training gave Adi that chance and now he is celebrating his major achievement.
We need more partnerships! Become a mentor to our Youth Services Program. All you need to do is speak to our students about what you do for a living. Share with them how you landed your current job. Securing a job is not an easy task and can be more difficult when you have a disability. By sharing your successes and challenges, you can change a student’s life.
Our Pre-Employment Transition Services needs more internship sites for our students. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make a difference and not a lot is required of you.
What we need from you:
- A desire to build a partnership with NILP
- A commitment to support students with disabilities
- Open communication so you and the student are supported
- Training of responsibilities
- Constructive feedback to students
How the program works:
- NILP is responsible for compensation of the student
- The internship usually runs for about 12 weeks
- Weeks can be extended if the business & student requests
- Staff checks in weekly with business & student
- Changes can be made if the match isn’t working out
By connecting with NILP, you’re making an investment in your community. When our students with disabilities succeed, our communities are stronger and more inclusive!
If you can’t invest your time right now, perhaps you can donate? Donations go a long way in connecting our students to opportunities and experiences that help them thrive as adults. Thank you for your generosity. We can’t do this work without you!
As an Independent Living Center, NILP connects people with disabilities of all ages with resources and services to live healthy, independent, and confident lives in the community.
Over 51% of our staff self-identify as a person with a disability, providing an unparalleled level of peer support. NILP can best be described as a community of peers working together to help people with disabilities achieve their self-defined goals!