Spring Transition Events in Full Swing
by Debra Zawada and Lyla Crawford, DO-IT Staff
March 2007 was a very busy month for DO-IT. We planned and participated in many transition to college and career events throughout the Northwest. Local Seattle area events included a transition resource fair at Highline School District on March 1. DO-IT assisted with planning and staffed an information table along with three separate screenings of the "College You Can DO-IT" video. The 6th annual Transition to College Event at North Seattle Community College held on March 27th was attended by students and educators surrounding districts. As always, the highest rated activity of the day was the panel of college students with disabilities sharing their successes and challenges as they transitioned from high school to college. Participants were also involved in workshops on assistive technology, accessing college services, and developing self-determination skills. Our partners at North Seattle Community College provided the facility and met the technology needs for the event. DO-IT also co-hosted an event the next day at the Seattle School District. DO-IT staff, along with a DO-IT Scholar, opened each of the four sessions with a self-determination workshop before the students attended a resource fair with thirty agencies represented.
On March 27th Spokane Community College (SCC) hosted its 7th Annual Student Transition Conference. 124 high school students, from all over eastern Washington, and 40 educators and parents attended the four hour event. The conference offers high school students practical and useful information they can use to make a successful transition to postsecondary education. "It's a great way to get students, their teachers and parents talking about what the future may hold for these students; there are a lot of options in education and in the community," says Sally Hillebrandt, SCC Disability Support Services program support supervisor.
Participants attended sessions on topics that included navigating and accessing services in higher education, how to get and keep a job, and balancing work, money and education. The conference also offers a campus tour and a session just for high school seniors. In addition to the sessions participants were given a transition guide which includes information on the differences between high school and college, tips on how to find a college that's right for them, information about disabled student services on campuses, explanations of financial aid options, community resources related to higher education and much more. On of the parents in attendance remarked "This is great! You are telling him all the things I have been telling him, but he seems to be listening to you."
Out of state travel took us to Boise, Idaho and Portland, Oregon. This was our third year participating in the Tools for Life: Secondary Transition and Technology Fair in Boise. This year attendance topped 400 students, taking advantage of two days of workshops on varied aspects of transition. DO-IT presentations were geared toward students, parents and teachers on the topics of preparation for college, using universal design strategies in career exploration activities, along with strategies to talk with an employer and keep a job. Our partner agency in Portland, INCIGHT: Resources for Self-Empowerment, co-hosted a Transition To College and Career Day. DO-IT ran two breakout sessions on self-advocacy and work-based learning. In addition to a panel of college students with disabilities, there was also an employer panel present to answer student questions regarding employment of individuals with disabilities. Based on the contacts made at these out of state events, we are already planning to return to work with different school districts and the Oregon Business Leadership Network (OBLN).
Although such a busy month is hectic, we always enjoy the opportunity to interact with students, parents, teachers and business leaders with the objective of improving transition outcomes for students with disabilities.