Transitioning to Opportunity Networks
Opportunity Networks provides transition services to both high school students (age 16-21) and adults who are looking for long-term services. We strive to incorporate each individual’s interests, goals and aspirations in a comprehensive transition plan. For our high school transition students, we work collaboratively with the school by attending planning meetings, and participating in training sessions as well as in-school observation sessions to acquire a personal understanding of the individual’s needs as they move from school to adult services.
We offer Extended School Year (ESY) summer programs through the school, job support through Vocational Rehabilitation, or we can help build a unique program for addressing other needs supported by our Day Program.
For adults starting services for the first time, or transitioning from another program, we learn best practices for engaging the individual in meaningful, satisfying programming while forming relationships with all members of the support team.
Transitioning to a new program can be a very stressful experience for individuals and their families. It is our goal at Opportunity Networks to facilitate transitions in a way that reduces that stress, promotes trust in our staff and builds confidence in our services.
Please meet Deanna D.
Deanna D. is a wonderful young lady who has been in the process of transitioning out of High School and into Opportunity Networks Day and Employment Service Program since July 2016. Her local High School graciously agreed to fund her transition program, to help her get acclimated to life in adult services. Deanna has a part-time job, where she is starting to learn new tasks and take on more responsibility, with the help of one of our Job Resource Specialists. She is always ready to flash a smile in passing, and has made many new friends since the start of her transition to Opportunity Networks.
Deanna enjoys getting to socialize with friends, new and old, and work towards being more independent, to the point of someday living on her own.
“Opportunity Networks can help me advocate for myself, they helped me advocate for myself at my job, and now I am training to do more tasks at my job. I am part of the News Crew at Opportunity Networks, and this allows me to practice my writing skills and write about topics that are interesting to me. I also want to own 18 dogs. My ultimate goal is to have my own place to live, write articles for a Newspaper or Seventeen Magazine, or be a Photo Journalist. I want to get married and have a family.”
One of the things Deanna likes about Opportunity Networks is that there are different social activities to take part in every week. When asked about what makes Opportunity Networks or another Adult Service Program different from school, Deanna replied with
“Being in High School is a lot different, because not only can you do a lot more and be independent at Opportunity Networks, but you can make a lot more of your own choices. In the beginning of my transition, I didn’t feel comfortable because you didn’t know anybody, and it was a huge change from school. I had a group of friends in High School, and making new friends was tough at first, but now that I have made new friends, everything is really good!”
I asked Deanna if she had any advice for families and individuals looking to transition into an adult service program, and her response was
“Pick wisely, make sure you look into all your options, and choose a program that fits you. I was extremely nervous when I started, as I didn’t know many people, but I have made many new friends, and a lot of my friends from High School are transitioning over here.”
Deanna has been an extremely good advocate for her wants and needs since starting with us here at Opportunity Networks, and she always shows up with a positive attitude, ready for anything. On numerous occasions, in speaking with me, she mentions how important this is for her, and how much she looks forward to Wednesdays and Thursdays each week (the two days agreed upon between Deanna, her family, Opportunity Networks, and the school supporting her until she is 21). To keep this piece as light-hearten as possible, I asked Deanna if she could tell me a good or funny story from her time here with us. While she said she could have gone funny, she preferred to give a good story about her and Job Resource Specialist, Erin, going down to Nashua Community College to speak with an Admission Rep about classes there:
“One day, Erin, took me down to Nashua Community College to talk to Admissions and try to take the AccuPlacer test for admission into the college. I felt very happy that this support was provided to me and hope to start classes there in the future.”
I have seen Deanna interacting at a high social level with staff and many of her peers while in programming with us, and have seen that reciprocated by others. She brings a smile to any room she enters, and is quick with a joke, or a hearty laugh at someone else’s.
Deanna knows that living with a disability is just that; living with a disability. It does not define her, or anyone else experiencing disabilities, in any way. It is just a part of life; she still takes on every day like anyone else. She knows there are challenges, but aren’t there challenges for everybody? Deanna recently wrote a piece for our monthly Newsletter, titled “Because You Have A Disability Doesn’t Mean You Give Up,” which I would like to share with you here:
“I have had a disability my whole life, which brings its own set of daily challenges. But being different is OK though, because you’re unique and you can do anything you want to, be whatever you want to be, and you can be yourself as long as you always have a ‘never give up’ and ‘can do’ attitude.
The ‘never giving up on my dreams’ attitude is something that helps drive me every day. I have learned to just be myself, and not worry about what others think. So having a disability is not the end of the world, just one more challenge that I take head on every day.”