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Students with disabilities may benefit from summer work experiences

MARTINS FERRY — Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities is providing Summer Youth Work Experiences throughout Ohio. The five-week service provides students (ages 14-21) with a disability the opportunity to explore careers and gain on-the-job training in a variety of local industries. Because of COVID-19, flexibilities are in place to provide in-person work experiences or virtual summer youth services. A total of 29 students in Belmont County are participating this summer.

Career exploration is geared toward younger students. Activities include virtual job site tours, remote informational interviews, interactive exercises, work inventories, and discussions. These services help students consider a broad range of employment possibilities, understand the skills required to do the job, and take inventory of interests and needs. Students participating in career exploration receive a training stipend.

Work-based learning experiences help students build confidence and learn essential skills in a job setting. Youth are assigned to work sites based on their interests and abilities, and safeguards are in place to promote health and safety. While working at job sites, students receive support from a job coach and earn minimum wage.

OOD Director Kevin Miller said, “Students benefit greatly from Summer Youth Work Experiences. They learn about career possibilities, how work is different from school, and what they like and dislike. These experiences provide an important foundation for getting off to a great career.”

OOD works with 84 vocational rehabilitation providers throughout the state to make these summer work experiences possible. “We have received positive feedback about how providers have structured services this summer, making them engaging, meaningful, and fun,” said Jay Burns with the OOD Provider and Contract Management Unit.

“We are very fortunate that we’ve been able to partner with businesses that have allowed our participants to have hands-on work experiences this summer. For the students who have been able to participate, being able to get out of the house and make some money is a welcomed change,” said Courtney Baxter, Transition Program Manager with Functional Training Services, Inc.

If you have a child, 14 years of age or older with a disability, reach out to OOD for more information on how we can help your child with career exploration, skill development, and strategies to get a job after graduation. Counselors begin talking with students and their parents about next summer’s opportunities starting in the fall. To find out more, visit the OOD Students 14+ webpage at https://ood.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/ood/individuals-with-disabilities/services/students-14-plus

OOD is the state agency responsible for empowering individuals with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. www.OOD.Ohio.Gov.

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