Cardinal Cushing Centers is a private special education, vocational training and residential program for populations with intellectual, developmental and behavioral disabilities. The goal of the program is to better prepare the young adult for a successful and healthy life living as independently as possible.
Most students begin in the education program learning academics until the age of eighteen when they transition to the vocational training program. This program offers classroom-learning settings as well as vocational “sites” or on campus businesses monitored by staff. The students are given opportunities to learn work skills in culinary and retail while be supported as needed by a vocational staff.
Some of the students go off campus and work in competitive integrated employment positions with limited job coaching through an organization called Best Buddies.
80% of the students live on campus at Cardinal Cushing. At the age of 22, the student will graduate from Cardinal Cushing and move to a new residential unit and vocational program that caters to their needs. This process is funding dependant and also linked to the student’s home life, which may be non-existent. Some students may not know where they will be living until their actual birthday.
Cardinal Cushing strives to prepare these students for the unknown and allow them to move forward at age 22 as independently as possible.
My service project involved leading a discussion group for the graduating students and talk about issues like social skills, alcohol education, healthy relationships and social networking. I previously worked for a non-profit Best Buddies and was based out of Cardinal Cushing Centers. I was already familiar with the program but had some ideas of how to support the population in a different way.
I volunteered with Cardinal Cushing to assist in creating a curriculum to cover topics not included in the typical education program aligning with the goal of providing independent, healthy opportunities for the population.