Paraquad works with youth who have a disability and have a desire to increase their independence and want to learn how to advocate for themselves! The Youth & Family Staff will assist youth and their family to explore the youth’s goals and their future. Youth & Family Services offer various ways for the youth to explore their independence within a safe and friendly environment.

Youth Group
Ages: 12 to 21 years old

The youth group provides an opportunity for the youth to explore the concepts of independence, finding their own voice, and discovering new ideas along with their peers. During the youth group meeting, the youth are introduced to various topics such as the History of the Independent Living Movement, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), advocacy, and transition to adulthood. Independent living skills training is woven throughout the entire experience. Youth are encouraged to find their own voice by encouraging them to advocate for themselves. Youth begin to learn to make simple decisions. Youth without disabilities are welcome to participate in the youth group activities.

The Youth Group meets on the third Saturday of every month during the school year, subject to change for holidays. The Youth Group usually meets from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. Note: times are subject to change depending on the activity.

Special Education Advocacy
Ages: Birth to 21 years old

The main purpose of Special Education Advocacy is to assist parents or older youth in becoming aware of and advocating for their educational rights. The assistance can range from providing written material on the IEP process to helping educate the student and parents. There are times where we provide the knowledge and the parents can successfully advocate for their child independently. However, there are other times when our presence is an essential service to the IEP meeting, resulting in a positive outcome. Each Special Education Advocacy meeting is very individualized to the needs of the participant and their family to meet the needs of the student. Our main goal is for the students with disabilities to receive a fair and appropriate education experience.

Youth Transition
Ages: 14 to 24 years old

Transitioning into adulthood can be a scary time for youth and their families. Thinking about the future and stepping into adulthood can be challenging for all parties. Paraquad can help make this process exciting and fun! Youth Transition should be a time where youth can explore their options and find their own path to adulthood with support from their family and community. During this transition, youth need to start making their own life decisions. Deciding whether to further their education after high school or start seeking employment opportunities, where and with whom they want to live as well as how they will address all their daily living tasks. The concept of Youth Transition is very individualized to meet the needs of each youth. It is essential for youth to have ongoing encouragement from their family during the transition process.

Youth transition should take place between the ages of 14 to 21 years old. We encourage youth to be a part of this process along with support and encouragement from the youth specialist and the youth’s family. Working together, youth will be thinking about their employment options, if they want to further their education, where to live, their transportation needs and many other things dealing with transitioning into adulthood. It is the youth’s time to dream and hopefully make some of their dreams a reality.

Youth Summer Services
Ages: 16 to 21 years old

Summer is the perfect time for youth with disabilities to dream, explore, and discover their interests in a fun and safe environment along with their peers. Youth Summer Services offer various fun filled and hands-on experiences focusing on helping the youth with disabilities to develop independent living skills and pre-employment skills.

The youth with disabilities will be challenged to think about their future and what it would look like regarding where to live and where to work. Some of the activities will be an opportunity for youth to take a glance into their future such as touring an accessible apartment or taking the public bus to the mall. All activities will give the youth an opportunity to build on their independent living skills from learning how to prepare a meal to learning how to give a presentation.

Along with developing independent living skills, the youth with disabilities will be challenged with developing pre-employment skills. Pre-employment skills can range from creating their own resume to exploring their career to practicing mock interviews. During our time together, the youth will also be developing their soft skills through role-playing. Soft skills can be a challenge for all of us, so we continue to practice and model using our soft skills.

Youth Summer Services are offered throughout the summer. The different activities can range from a one-day workshop to a month long, five day a week camp and the times will vary depending on the activities. The youth will have a blast while developing valuable skills.

For more information, or to join one of the Paraquad Youth & Family Programs, contact Information & Referral Line at (314) 289-4200.