Bill, 21, a student in the Secondary Program at Perkins School for the Blind, has a passion for working on cars. He’s happiest when he’s under a hood, engine grease on his hands.
With graduation on the horizon, Bill’s parents hope to line up a volunteer opportunity for their son at a local auto repair shop so he can spend time doing what he loves. It’s a challenge many parents face when their adult child with multiple disabilities transitions out of the educational system.
“It takes creativity and hard work, but finding the right mix of daily activities is crucial,” said Denise Fitzgerald, Perkins’ director of Transition Services.
On Sept. 30, Perkins will launch a new course to help parents create a more engaging, enriching life for young adults with visual impairment and multiple disabilities. Building a Better Day will empower parents to find, develop and implement meaningful daily activities, designed to match their son or daughter’s interests and skills.
The five-part course will be held one Friday per month from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Perkins’ campus. Participants will receive in-depth guidance from Perkins experts, adult services professionals and parents who have already been through the transition process.
“Parents need a plan,” said Fitzgerald, who will serve as a lead presenter. “It’s all about knowing your child’s interests and passions and setting out to create opportunities that expand their world.”
Without meaningful activities on their daily schedule, Fitzgerald said young adults with multiple disabilities risk becoming bored and isolated from their community and peers.
Parents who sign up for Building a Better Day will learn proven strategies for working with partners in their own communities, she said.
“It’s so important to build that community connection,” said Fitzgerald. “Whether it’s chipping in a few days each week at a local business or passing out bulletins at church, we want all students to stay engaged and play an active role in their communities after they graduate.”
Building a Better Day will also offer parents an opportunity to network. Parent presenters will share activities they designed and explain how they built an ongoing relationship with community organizations and day programs.
“Participants are going to hear valuable stories,” said Fitzgerald. “We want parents to talk to one another and exchange ideas. That’s where the best activities are going to come from.”
Registration for Building a Better Day is now open. For more information, including a full course schedule, visit Perkins.org/BetterDay.