Local youth develop employment skills while building community connections

Provided photo — Pictured are three area youths who learned valuable life skills as part of the SAIL program.

SAIL Press release

HOUGHTON — This summer in Houghton and Keweenaw counties, Superior Alliance for Independent Living, Disability Network of the Upper Peninsula (SAIL) and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) – Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) partnered together to provide paid work-based learning experiences for local area youth who identify as living with a disability. It can be challenging for a student to identify potential career fields that match his/her interests and abilities, especially for students living with a disability and who may have limited work experience. This work based learning program provides the opportunity for these students to learn skills in a supportive environment and network with community businesses, which will assist them in finding and maintaining a job early on in their life.

The work based learning program offered students the opportunity to develop employability skills that has prepared them for entering the workforce after completing school. These skills included time management, organization, problem solving, communication, conflict resolution, and teamwork. For many students, it was their first job and allowed them to gain valuable experience that they can include on their resumes. For some, this was their second summer in the program, which allowed them to either gain additional work experience in a different environment or take on a leadership role at the same site they were at last summer. There were a total of five job sites within the communities that agreed to partner with SAIL and MRS who provided the work based learning experiences. In total, there were 15 students who worked at the following sites: two for the city of Houghton, three at Hancock High/Elementary School, two at Houghton High School, four at Calumet High School, and four for the village of Calumet. Their duties included janitorial, landscaping, maintenance, and manual labor.

Superior Alliance for Independent Living, Disability Network of the Upper Peninsula (SAIL) assists individuals with disabilities and promotes accessible Upper Peninsula communities for all. SAIL serves all 15 counties of the Upper Peninsula and provides a wide range of services that assist people with disabilities in gaining independence and preparing to enter the workforce. For more information about SAIL, contact 1-906-228-5744 or visit SAIL’s website at: www.upsail.org.