In partnership with Boca West Country Club, Unicorn Children’s Foundation and Unicorn Village Academy launched a job training internship program for young adults with disabilities in August of 2018. Interns ranged in age from 17-24 years of age who have an intellectual or developmental disability which makes it statistically more difficult for them to find jobs upon completion of high school. The unemployment rate for youth with disabilities is approximately 80% despite their ability and willingness to work.
Since 2018, 9 young adults were selected for a year-long pre-employment internship program at Boca West Country Club to learn competitive, transferable, and marketable job skills in an integrated setting. All 7 interns from the 2019 class were offered jobs, with 1 receiving a full-time position with benefits.
Philosophy People with disabilities have the right to choose a path toward education and employment. However, while freedom of choice is given, the right to work is earned. Earning the right to work is dependent upon the student's preparation. Simon, Stephen, ADA Quarterly, Fall 1998.
Student Eligibility Criteria: • Students with a variety of developmental disabilities • Appropriate hygiene, social and communication skills • Ability to take direction and change behavior • Eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation • Access public transportation • Pass drug screen, background check, immunizations - whatever is required of other employees • Desire to Work!
Below is an email that was received from one of the applicants for next year’s class at Boca West Country Club. Emily is currently in a boarding school in Massachusetts. Sharon met her parents at the SNAC Housing Solutions Summit who approached her in tears wondering what would happen to their daughter when she ages out. They flew her down specifically for the skills assessment day and, if accepted, they will be relocating her to Boca to be part of this program.
Dear Ms.Falconer and Ms. Alexander,
Thank you for allowing me to go to participate in the Skills Assessment Day at Boca West Country Club, I thought each of the tasks there were interesting. After I graduate from Riverview School, I would like the opportunity to continue my work-training growth with you please. I look forward to hearing back from you. It was nice seeing you and all the staff today.
Another story from the Skills Assessment Day: We had an applicant who 6 years ago required a personal aide and had a code word when his behavior became uncontrollable at his previous school. Additionally, most of his conversations revolved around Disney movie scripts. After attending Unicorn Village Academy for the past 5 years, he now takes Uber to a part-time job where he recently received a raise following his performance review. At the assessment, he was identified as the top pick by all department managers. Some of the characteristics that were shared included: self-starter, critical self-checker, best conversationalist, detail oriented, and meticulous.