Jada is two weeks from completing her internship through Imagine!’s Out & About department. She will graduate from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and then head back to NC to start a new job. I sat down with Jada to reflect on her time at Out & About, what led her to this field, and what’s next.
What is your final project for the internship?
My project is to create an American Sign Language (ASL) training for employees at Imagine!. It’ll be a PowerPoint that teaches how to communicate with participants who use ASL. Not many instructors know ASL to the level that our participants need. There are so many signs considering the many different activities we do. This way the instructors can help facilitate communication between ALL of the participants, that way the participants who primarily use ASL can connect with their peers. I minored in Deaf studies at College.
How did you get involved in the field of developmental disabilities?
My mom is an occupational therapist and through her, I started volunteering for an annual art festival that showcased work from students in the special needs classroom. That’s how I got introduced to this population. After that, I took a class in high school that allowed me to volunteer in a teacher’s class room to practice being a leader and I chose a special needs classroom. I really fell in love with those kiddos and that’s when I decided I wanted to be in this field. In addition to my studies and this internship, I worked at a summer camp in North Carolina for individuals on the spectrum.
What is big picture for you?
Well, after this internship and graduation, I start a job back home as a Supported Employment Employer. I will assist individuals on the spectrum with writing resumes, applying for jobs, and then interviewing for the job. Once they start working, I offer on-the-job training and skill development. At some point in the future, I always thought it would be fun to be a travel OT and see different parts of the country, or even world, while still getting paid for it.
What advice do you have for business owners or employees who work side by side with folks on the spectrum?
Definitely be open minded. I heard a quote once, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.” There’s no main thing you can assume about a person with a disability because each person is different in their own way. Understand THAT person and then each person you meet, you can learn something different. They are doing their best to communicate with you and to get to know you, be open minded and patient.
Thanks for being here and supporting Imagine!.
I loved being here. I can’t get over seeing the mountains everywhere I go, I will miss Colorado!