It’s a rare opportunity to be able to build a service without any precedence. It has been a fulfilling experience to be able initially invest time understanding the research surrounding transition from
school to adulthood and then see the implementation of the research start to come to life in the first week. However the real reward is to come, when we see it translate into goal achievement for each of these young adults.” Tennille Bertram, Director of Continuous Learning.
NextPath is a new program that launched at Mater Dei in January 2018. It was formed out of our desire to offer young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to continue learning beyond their compulsory high school education; we believe everyone has the right to ongoing learning, to achieve their individual goals and engagement in purposeful and meaningful activities.
As with all we do, our practice is guided by research. The program has been designed with a strong focus on evaluation so that we can determine whether our practices are effective. The students enrol with a particular area of interest in mind. For example, being able to access the community independently. They are then supported by Goal Facilitators to self-determine their future and shape their interest into a specific goal. They determine a plan for how they will reach their goal. This includes, engaging with other community groups, broadening their current experiences of the world through engagement in the communication, communications training, ongoing numeracy and literacy development that is relevant to their goal, attending TAFE when appropriate, and also determining what supports they will need.
Excitingly on Monday 29th January 2018 we welcomed our first cohort in this program. Six young adults have commenced their journey in the “Launch Pad” working on personalised goals towards inclusion in the greater Macarthur community. There have been a range of achievements, even in this short time. Some young adults have made professional phone calls for the first time, attended a gym for the first time, while others have learnt to communicate through emails. Some have completed barista training to assist with their goal of working in the hospitality industry. In the upcoming weeks, the young adults will be learning about catching public transport and using key cards. There will also be opportunities for them to learn through their recreation and leisure interests.
While it’s very early in the program, we are optimistic that this program is going to give young adults the tools and skills to set paths for their future. A future where they will be able to use each of their unique talents to their full capacity in our community.