Executive Director Regina Snowden founded Partners for Youth with Disabilities in 1985 in order to bring critical mentoring programs to an under-served population and to encourage inclusivity in other youth programs. PYD has grown from one program serving nine youth to five award-winning programs directly serving hundreds of youth with disabilities. PYD has developed and sustained innovative programs that promote inclusive practices, self-esteem, creativity, healthy lifestyles, and career development for youth and young adults age 6 to 24 who face daily challenges.
The cornerstone of PYD is the Mentor Match program. For more than 25 years PYD has paired youth and young adults with disabilities with compassionate adult mentors who best fit their personality, interests, and skills. These relationships have proven to be invaluable in improving the social and intellectual development of these youth.
Since 1994, PYD's Access to Theatre program has provided high quality arts education and creative exploration programming to youth with and without disabilities. Access to Theatre (ATT) combines creative arts workshops, performances, classes, and leadership opportunities in an inclusive and expressive setting. Guest artists from the community serve as group leaders, and ATT participants get the opportunity to create, rehearse, and perform original productions.
PYD's YEP program, established in 1995, teaches entrepreneurship, career readiness, and business and financial literacy skills to urban youth in the Boston Public Schools. The YEP curriculum uses tours, job shadows, and guest speakers to demonstrate the process of starting and managing a small business.
Since 1997, PYD's Making Healthy Connections program has been helping young adult participants with disabilities better understand their health care needs and how to effectively use community resources. MHC provides a safe and understanding environment for group discussion and recreational activities adapted for all abilities.
The PYD National Center program, established in 2005, extends PYD's influence by providing inclusion training to youth groups at a national level. The National Center seeks to improve the ability of youth-serving organizations to offer meaningful program participation for youth with disabilities.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed, with Section 504 prohibiting discrimination toward those with disabilities in federal programs and services and all other programs or services receiving federal funds.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (originally The Education of All Handicapped Children Act) passed, guaranteeing a free, appropriate, and minimally restrictive public education for all children with disabilities.
Partners for Youth with Disabilities is established. Mentor Match begins with nine matches, both mentors and mentees all individuals with physical disabilities.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is signed into law, classifying discrimination based on disability as a violation of civil rights.
PYD's Access to Theatre launches its first workshop.
PYD's Young Entrepreneurs Project begins as a collaboration with Boston Public Schools.
Making Healthy Connections is established as a PYD program.
First Disability Pride parade takes place in Chicago, Illinois.
PYD establishes the National Center to promote inclusion to other youth-serving organizations.
The ADA Amendments Act is signed into law, extending the ADA to protect and include people with all kinds of disabilities.
In conjunction with Tufts Medical Center, PYD completes a research project on the benefits of mentoring for youth on the autism spectrum.