Mentoring Day focuses on independence for students with disabilities
On March 13 at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, area eighth- to 12th-grade students with disabilities participated in Mentoring Day sponsored by Northern Lights Interagency Council (NLIC). Mentoring Day is a local version of the National...
On March 13 at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, area eighth- to 12th-grade students with disabilities participated in Mentoring Day sponsored by Northern Lights Interagency Council (NLIC). Mentoring Day is a local version of the National Disability Mentoring Day which is organized by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). It has occurred regionally as "Rocketing into the Future," under the leadership of the Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative (NLSEC) since 1992.
Over 360 students from more 15 school districts were in attendance. Students had attended four breakout sessions of their choosing related to careers, postsecondary education, community participation, recreational activities, housing, self-advocacy, etc. They wrapped up the day by listening to a keynote speaker talk about planning for their futures and the steps they need to take now to reach their goals. The day is focused on providing students with an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills that will assist them in transitioning from high school into adulthood. Presentations were provided by local, regional and state businesses and service providers who donated their time and energy for the students.
Throughout the day, students and parents had an opportunity to visit with 30-40 exhibitors comprised of local, regional and state colleges, adult service providers and businesses. This provided an opportunity for students, parents and teachers to ask questions, network, and build a bridge of support.
Another great part of Mentoring Day is that students were able to engage in mock interviews which were coordinated with the Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training. Students gained insight into participating in interviews, how to be prepared, and received feedback from area business professionals on strengths and areas to improve on.
While students participated in their sessions, a separate strand for parents occurred that was facilitated by parents. Parents heard from speakers represented by Arc Northland, Social Security Administration, Carlton and St. Louis County social workers, Minnesota Disability Law Office, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, State Services for the Blind, Minnesota Department of Education, various post-secondary institutions, and the Minnesota Department of Education.
"A major component of Mentoring Day for high school students is providing them with the skills and knowledge that allows them to pursue their post high school dreams and become productive, healthy human beings," said said Jessica Knutsen, the Secondary Transition Coordinator for the Northern Lights Special Ed Cooperative. "A huge component of this success is within the area of employment, and by seeking that advice and expertise from local businesses and leaders in the area we are able to best prepare our students. We also know when business people connect directly with students, not only does it have a profound and positive impact on students, but opens the eyes of the employers to the abilities of those with disabilities."