News and Information

Our 15th Annual Golf Tournament was a great success!

On a beautiful day in June, we found ourselves on the golf course raising awareness and funds for the important supports and services The Arc of DC provides for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).  

Our 15th Annual Golf Tournament was a great success thanks to the volunteers from The Takoma Station Community Outreach Group, Takoma Station Tavern, The Arc of the United States, and The University of Maryland Golf Course.  Over 100 players signed up and spent the morning enjoying beautiful weather, while striving for the best game score in hopes of winning an award.  After working up an appetite on the course, the group enjoyed lunch while players were presented with awards and prizes. Read the full story

 

A Partnership and Specialisterne Equals Jobs for those with Autism

CAI Specialisterne PhotoThanks to a great partnership with Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI), through a sub-contract from The Arc of the United States, The Arc of DC was able to start its journey using the Specialisterne training model to help individuals with Autism seek employment opportunities in their field of interest - information technology.

Jennifer McClure, CBI Program Manager with The Arc of DC, joined with 2 trainers from CAI and trained a class of 10 individuals, all of whom were vying for available positions with one of CAI’s partners. Throughout the training the individuals learned about skills they would need, such as programming and quality assurance, while they engaged with each other to show off their ability to work as a team and help each other succeed. Many of the students were also able to showcase their technology knowledge and skills.

At the end of the four week training, 7 of the 10 individuals were offered a job and the remaining individuals will receive help with locating other opportunities. The Arc of DC thanks CAI for this wonderful experience and looks forward to future partnerships, so more individuals can obtain jobs they are passionate about while building a career.

The Specialisterne Program Comes to the District

Specialisterne Group PhotoDuring the first week of April, Jonathan Lucus, Managing Director, The Arc@Work at The Arc US and Jennifer McClure, CBI Program Supervisor at The Arc of DC attended the Specialisterne “Train the Trainer” certification course in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

The purpose of the training was to educate and certify participating Chapters of The Arc on the Specialisterne training so they can be a partner organization and begin to implement the program at their respective location across the U.S. The “Train the Trainer” course instructs attendees in the two primary components of the Specialisterne model: LEGO Mindstorms assessments and the SCRUM methodology. LEGO Mindstorms is an assessment model that evaluates an individual’s problem solving skills, creative thinking, data interpretation ability, and software testing skills. SCRUM is a software development framework used for managing software projects and application development. It is the framework in which employee trainees are instructed during the skills portion of the Specialisterne on-the-job training. Together, these components make up the competence assessment and IT training provided through the Specialisterne program. This course prepares The Arc network staff to effectively assess program participants and instruct them during the IT and work readiness training sessions.

Jonathan and Jennifer both successfully completed the course and received their certifications and will be implementing the program in Washington DC this spring. The objective of the Specialisterne Program is to provide training and job opportunities in STEM related fields of work for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The Arc of DC will be working with area businesses that need support locating on on-boarding qualified talent.

If you are interested in the Specialisterne Program or know a business that needs on-boarding support or our other The Arc@Work programs, please visit us at www.thearc.org/thearcatwork. You can also contact Jonathan Lucus by email at lucus@thearc.org or phone at (202) 534–3706.

Exploring Options for Independent Living

Living independently can be both an adventure and a challenge, but knowing what to expect and how to prepare are key to success. For the students of Eastern High School and Ballou High School, exploring options for independent living were the focus of their February and March trips. Exploration began with a visit from the DC Center for Independent Living (CIL), so students could become familiar with the resources the CIL offers. Resources include finding housing options, finding job opportunities, and planning to achieve other life goals.

Eastern High School then took a trip to St. John’s Community Services. St. John’s offered the students a tour of apartments and shared the many resources they offer. The apartments allowed students to see the amenities they could have access to, such as an in-unit washer and dryer as well as on on-site fitness center. Resources offered by St. John’s, such as financial and medical management, allowed students to see that a variety of support is available if needed.

Ballou’s trip was slightly different as the students toured two different apartment complexes, the Vista at Wingate and Park 7. The comparison of different apartment complexes allowed the students to see how pricing structures, amenities, deposit fees, and unit options vary. Having a chance to tour different apartments also prompted many questions and concerns from the students, such as “Are we allowed to have pets in the apartments?” and “Why are the closets so small?”

Both trips offered students a realistic view of the living options they can pursue. They gained a better understanding of what may be within their financial means as well as which options may best provide for their personal needs. The skills obtained from these experiences will help the students to properly research the living opportunities they pursue, increasing their independence further.

Encouraging Students to Read and Explore the World at their Local Library

Our Community-Based Instruction Program started the new year with 24 students from Anacostia, Banneker, Cardozo, and Wilson High Schools taking trips to a local library. During each library trip students were shown the various sections of books, where they could obtain help, and what libraries offer beyond reading, like the 3D printers at MLK Jr. Memorial Library. Student Perez P. stated: “I had fun and learned about different types of books, like sports and romance.”

Students also had the opportunity to use the online card catalog, learning how to research a topic, confirm a book was in the library they were at, and then find the book on the shelf. Herbert A. excitedly showed his teacher a book about soccer, saying: “Look, here is my favorite player.” He was also able to check out the book after obtaining a library card. This process was completed by most students and many were looking forward to returning on their own.

A special thanks to the librarians for supporting the students in their endeavor to improve their research skills and take a step closer to independence.

Sharing the Importance of Student and Family Engagement with DC Special Education Teachers

Providing teachers with valuable information helps them develop empowered and independent students, so we gladly participate in Professional Development Days with DCPS. In December we hosted a session about Student and Family Engagement as it relates to Community-Based Instruction (CBI) outings. CBI outings enhance classroom learning through real world experiences and encourage independent livings skills. With 17 teachers from a variety of schools in attendance, discussions of key topics were exciting. These topics included what engagement is for students and family (parents, guardians, caregivers, and so on), why engagement is necessary, and how to manage engagement. The result of our discussions led to three important points:

  1. Communicate with students and make sure they are involved: find out what their interests are and let them help plan the CBI outings.
  2. Address student behavior before, during and after trips: discuss what behavior is appropriate, address behaviors both good and bad during trips, then review how they performed back in class.
  3. Reach out to parents (guardians, caregivers, and so on): do not wait for them to come to you. Provide parents with the details of what is going on and ask if they have questions or concerns. Offer them a voice in their child’s learning.

Every student and parent is unique, so engagement can be challenging; however, it is necessary for improved learning and enhancing students’ experiences on CBI outings. Even small changes can have a large impact, so finding ways to capture students’ attention, motivate their curiosity, and drive parent support is important. We at The Arc of DC, in conjunction with DCPS, strive to support these tasks and help teachers achieve success.

 

Introducing DC Students to Banking, Budgeting, and Perhaps A Career in the Field

With our Community Based Instruction Program in full swing, 25 students from Ballou Stay High School traveled to TD Bank in November to gain real world experience about the banking industry. The primary focus was to understand the importance of using a bank and how to manage their funds to increase savings, as many students have never been to a bank and hide money away in their homes. Prior to visiting the bank, the bank store manager and his lead teller visited the students in their classroom to discuss budgeting and savings. Students had the opportunity to fill out a budget, plan for a savings account, and even calculate simple interest.

The visit to the bank began with a discussion panel, made up of the store manager, lead teller, a financial representative, and a customer service representative. Topics of discussion included how to open an account, how much interest can be earned on different accounts, what lending options are available, and the requirements for working in the bank. The students asked a variety of questions that often challenged the banking staff. Students were also taken on a tour of the bank to review where different banking functions take place, including a walk through the money vault. Before departing, TD Bank provided the students and staff with some fun mementos, like savings banks.

 

The Arc National Headquarters Announces New Strategic Alliance with District of Columbia Chapter

Mary Lou MeccarielloThe Arc of the District of Columbia (The Arc of DC), a mainstay in our nation’s capitol for nearly 65 years, has entered into a new strategic alliance with The Arc of the United States for management of the chapter that aims to enhance services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the District and create an incubator to develop best practices that can be replicated at chapters across the country in the future. As longtime executive director Mary Lou Meccariello retires this fall, The Arc of DC’s board of directors is drawing on the expertise of The Arc’s national headquarters, also located in DC, to reposition the organization so that it can continue to be a preeminent service provider in the District and a powerful advocate for people with I/DD and their families. Read the full press release.

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