Leap into Success: A Community Engagement Retrospective

Amelia MaldonadoBlog

Stay-at-home orders have affected IRC clients, staffers, service providers, and community partners alike. During this challenge we as an agency believe that following public health orders we protect clients and our community at large. And though we can’t see each other right now, we can look back at some of the wonderful memories we’ve made together. One such occasion of collaboration across agencies to serve our clients was the Leap into Success conference.

On February 29, Leap into Success was held at the IRC Conference Center. The one-day transition conference was hosted by local non-profit organization Chasing 7 Dreams, IRC service provider In-Roads Creative Programs, and the IRC Community Engagement team.

Leap into Success was created for young people with disabilities who are adults and transition-age. Presentations were designed to help attendees bridge the gap between school and adult life. Topics included interviews, job and college applications, and social media. Making Connections, a class on how to safely make friends, was an especially meaningful session. Presenters included Mechelle Robinson of Chasing 7 Dreams, as well as Daisy Quiroz and Amelia Maldonado from Inland Regional Center.

Parents and family members who accompanied their loved ones at the conference attended their own presentation. The parent/family session was presented by IRC Employment Specialists Beth Crane and Andrew Burdick. This session focused on the transition process, employment and day service options, and the role of Inland Regional Center as clients transition out of the school system.

In addition to learning opportunities, attendees and their family members had the chance to network with one another over lunch. They were also asked to give their input on future trainings and events for teen and adult clients. Attendees wrapped up their day with raffle drawings and the chance to attend a resource fair featuring disability and service organizations.

Sharon Barton, CEO of In-Roads Creative Programs, had this to say about Leap into Success, “Transitioning from school to adult life is a life-changing process for our clients. We hope that the guidance and tools we give them at this time will make that transition just a bit easier.”

Leap into Success also acted as the launch of a new transition program from Chasing 7 Dreams, aimed to assist young people with disabilities. Tenika Doyle, Chasing 7 Dreams Founder, said that the new program will consist of a three-day conference that will be equal parts fun and learning, with an emphasis on life skills and employment readiness.

Watch a video recap of the conference here.

Tenika, who is also a mother of a 16-year old son with Autism, also shared this about why creating these opportunities is so crucial. “We want to educate the community that every individual is unique and can work if the opportunity and training are available to them. They do have abilities that can be an asset to an employer. Our goal is to make sure individuals with special needs transitioning into the rest of their lives are given an opportunity for a life of quality.”

Community Engagement Manager CJ Cook remembers the event fondly and spoke on how COVID-19 is affecting IRC events.  “This event was great because it empowered our youth to seek jobs in which they can contribute to their communities. Our Community Engagement team is working hard to find ways to connect virtually. Our clients are so important but most important is their health and safety.”

At the time of publishing, plans for IRC conferences and events have been shelved due to COVID-19 concerns.

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Amelia Maldonado

Amelia is IRC's Community Relations Specialist and an expert on all things IRC. You will frequently find her typing away on her laptop, creating social media/web content, agency publications, and more. Outside of work her passions include smooshy face dogs, fitness, and roller derby!

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