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Disability Mentoring Day helps students with disabilities transition into the workforce

The ninth annual Disability Mentoring Day is Wednesday. Students from around the state are scheduled to gather at locations around the state and learn about the skills needed for different jobs.

More than 90 students with disabilities are participating in this year’s mentoring day. Teens will get help transitioning beyond high school to college or into the workforce at locations in Kent, New Castle and Sussex counties.

Verna Hensley, vice president of Public Affaires for Easter Seals, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She said the day helps the teenagers set employment goals for themselves.

“All students need to be challenged to set their goals and aim high. And sometimes I think you know we don’t set those goals for students with disabilities and we don’t set them as high as we should because what we find is if they have their goals and they set them high, they’re more likely to achieve them than not."

The University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies started the event in Delaware. Associate Director Brian Freedman says the event gives youth will disabilities a chance to shine and show employers how much talent they actually have.

“We want to give students with disabilities opportunities to experiment, learn about the kinds of jobs that feel like a good fit for them," he said. "And to give them the opportunity to network so they can start to make connections and eventually down the line they can get paid employment in the field that they’re most interested in.”

Freedman said many students with disabilities benefit from the experience by building relationships with businesses. The networking also helps them secure summer internships. Freeman also said more students, schools and employers are participating this year than in previous years.

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