What does PYD mean to you? #IamPYD

On March 12th, PYD began its #IAMPYD campaign by bringing our traveling canvass to Access To Theatre, PYD’s theater arts program for teens and young adults. Participants added their art to the canvas, expressing why they are involved and what they like most about PYD. The canvas is currently filled with a rocket ship, flowers, and other colorful drawings, including proud declarations of personal identities and why PYD is important to them.

Thanks to Mary Grace, Jackie, Juan, and Olivia of the Boston University PRLab, three peer leaders shared their experiences and how PYD has impacted their lives. The following are excerpts and photos from the interviews and the young artists’ process.

“I like being a peer leader for Access To Theatre and Making Healthy Connections because I enjoy expressing my individuality through theater and having fun! I love it because it is a space where I don’t get judged.” – Lizzie Gray

“My favorite thing about being a peer leader is being with my PYD family and those that I love the most. I also like helping others” – Josh Jones

“Partners for Youth with Disabilities has helped me be a better human being. It helps me be more independent as a man and it teaches me about social skills, and how to be ready for the world. In my personal life, it helps me be prepared for anything, because it unlocks that [treasure box] of opportunities and it helps me express who I am as an individual. It helps me learn more about myself and learn new things about different people. Everyone has a story and you never what they are going through unless you sit with them and learn their story. PYD has helped me with that. I’ve been involved for nine years now. I love PYD and thank them for doing that. If PYD didn’t exist I wouldn’t have learned to be as sharp, strong, independent, and intelligent, and I woudn’t have learned all these acting and theater skills. It is so cool to express being silly, but also being artistic and consistent at the same time. Some words that describe me are fearless, risk taker, ambitious, strive for greatest, loving, loyal, dedicated to family, dedicated to my peers, dedicated to being myself, honest, caring. Anything you need I’m always there for you. That’s what describes me.” – DJ Robinson

Join us at the Party for PYD on May 18th to hear DJ perform an original rap!

We’d like to thank Blick art for the kind donation of the canvas.

Understanding the Iceberg Model of Childhood Behavior

An adult speaking to a teenage boy in a calming wayBehaviors are the result of the interactions of two things: the characteristics we possess as people and the characteristics of the situation we face. The theory behind the iceberg model of childhood behavior is that there are many things that influence the way that children act and react: skills, knowledge, experience, social role or values, self-image, traits, and motives. Some (the most conscious) of these characteristics can be seen outright – “above the water,” if you will. The more subconscious or unconscious characteristics are the ones working behind the scenes — “underwater.” It is a mixture of all of these characteristics that will shape a child’s behavior—meaning that the cause of the behavior won’t always be apparent.

The tip of the iceberg—the conscious characteristics that children have in their toolbox—are skills, knowledge, and experiences. Skills represent what children can do innately or things they have learned to do over time. Knowledge is what they know or have come to understand as they’ve grown. This knowledge is shaped by their experiences, which help build both the knowledge and skills available to them in their personal toolboxes.

Under the water, however, are the unseen forces that can shape their behaviors. This portion consists of four large components: their social role and values, self-image, traits, and motives. Continue reading “Understanding the Iceberg Model of Childhood Behavior”

PYD Expands Mentoring Opportunities to Community College Students with Disabilities on a National Scale

Cartoon mentor and mentee connected via wifiBOSTON, MA – Over the next three years, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) will be launching a new online, professional mentoring program to support community college students with disabilities across five states.

According to the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Policy, people with disabilities continue to have an unemployment rate over two times that of people without disabilities. While higher education often improves employment opportunities, college graduates continue to face barriers when seeking employment, which can lead to unemployment or underemployment. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, Partners for Youth with Disabilities is planning to address this issue by expanding professional mentoring opportunities to community college students with disabilities in five states.

PYD will offer e-mentoring to 330 young adults with the goal of improved employment outcomes through partnerships with Business Leadership Networks in Massachusetts (Work Without Limits), Connecticut (Connecticut Business Leadership Network), Maine (Maine Business Leadership Network in partnership with the Maine Chamber of Commerce), Wyoming (Unita County Business Leadership Network), and Kansas (Greater Kansas City Leadership Network), as well as community colleges in these areas.

Community College students will access professional and peer mentors to increase their networks, receive advice, and gather support about achieving goals. They will also participate in topical webinars related to employment readiness, and engage in live networking and interview fairs hosted by the Business Leadership Networks.

According to Regina Snowden, Founder and Executive Director of Partners for Youth with Disabilities, “For 31 years, PYD has witnessed the transformative power of mentoring in the lives of youth and young adults with disabilities in their efforts to gain employment and achieve independence. We are thrilled to be expanding our program model beyond Massachusetts through e-Mentoring. We know that this effort between many collaborating partners will result in increased employment opportunities for the participating young adults.”

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About Partners for Youth with Disabilities
Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) empowers youth with disabilities to reach their full potential by providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise. To learn more, visit www.pyd.org.

About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The foundation has contributed more than $15 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives. To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at www.MEAF.org.

Celebrating a record-setting school year for YEP

Ah, summer! The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and our YEP teachers can finally kick their legs up and relax. And after this year, boy, do they need it!

It was a historic, busy year for PYD’s YEP program. We taught in 11 classrooms, reaching a program-record of over 110 students. To expose our students to different work environments, we took our classes on seven different job shadow experiences at companies as varied as Google, Whole Foods, and CVS. And we brought in eight guest lecturers to talk to our classes about different career paths and share career advice.

But that’s not enough! YEP students also take part in trade shows each year, where they sell their own handmade products and put the skills they have learned in class into action. This year, due to the tremendous success of not one but two trade shows, profits were high enough to reward the students with end-of-the-year celebrations and commemorative YEP t-shirts. The students loved them!

After this busy year, our YEP students got some well-deserved recognition with many end-of-year celebrations!

  • Four classes at Charlestown High School celebrated with a pizza party at Cafe Montego, a student-run cafe on the fifth floor of their school. Ann O’Connell, a long time YEP partner, baked chocolate chip cookies.
  • Two classes at Madison Park High School enjoyed a brunch together with their teachers Dan McGoff and Brian Miller.
  • One class at East Boston High School and two Boys & Girls Club classes (in Dorchester and Charlestown) all enjoyed pizza parties as well.

The YEP team would like to take the time to say a special goodbye to our YEP graduates, who will be transitioning from high school into college, employment opportunities, and other endeavors. We wish you the very best and hope to see you succeed using the tools and skills learned in your time with us. We would also like to thank all of our students. You make YEP worthwhile, fun, and educational for us! Your enthusiasm and commitment to successfully transitioning to work is what drives YEP.

We also send a huge “Thank you!” to our teacher partners at the various schools. We couldn’t run our program without your incredible help!

Ann O’Connell – Charlestown High School
Hal Leiper – Charlestown High School
Rachel Rooney – Charlestown High School
Ben McCormick – Charlestown High School
Trisha Flaherty – East Boston High School
Dan McGoff – Madison Park High School
Brian Miller – Madison Park High School
Kathy Crimi – Madison Park High School
Derek Gallagher – Charlestown Boys & Girls Club
Santi Dewa Ayu – Dorchester Boys & Girls Club
Joanne White – McKinely South End Academy
Mary Nee – McKinely South End Academy

We hope that everyone has a safe and happy summer!

Peer Mentors Help Youth Transition to Work

This blog post was written and contributed by BroadFutures, a member organization in the National Disability Mentoring Coalition.

BroadFutures is a young non-profit located in Washington, DC with a mission to empower young adults (18-26) with non-apparent disabilities through a holistic training, mentoring and paid internship program. BroadFutures partners with specialists in drama, speech therapy, yoga and meditation, bringing an innovative and unique perspective to the area of transition and workforce preparedness. BroadFutures has completed three successful pilot programs and is now taking its model to scale with its winter 2016 program.

One of the key components to BroadFutures’ success has been its peer mentoring model. Interns are supported by peer mentors (who are guided by an executive functioning coach) throughout the program. The peer mentors also serve as liaisons between interns and employers, ensuring successful outcomes for both.

In an effort to highlight the powerful impact and benefit of peer mentoring, we spoke with one of our alumni interns, Daniel Soya, who participated in the BroadFutures’ third cohort in the summer of 2015 and is now employed by the employer partner that hosted his internship, Marshall Moya Design.

When asked why he applied to the BroadFutures program, Daniel explained, “I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted to do and wanted to get experience in the workplace. I felt I got that experience.”

Continue reading “Peer Mentors Help Youth Transition to Work”

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