By Jamel Berry
When I was in high school, I was advised to contact New York State’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services — Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) for job training. However, I wasn’t traveling on my own yet, because even though I was 20 years old at the time, I relied on the school bus to get around during all my years of school.
No one taught me how to travel around New York City on my own. I wanted to learn. The ACCES-VR team told me about INCLUDEnyc, which is how I joined the Project Possibility program. INCLUDEnyc’s Project Possibility provides intensive support for youth with disabilities like me who are transitioning into adult life
When I started at INCLUDEnyc, I worked with a youth educator who helped me through some assessments. She asked me questions. The educator wanted to see how much I knew about traveling around New York City. Then, we worked on learning those skills one step at a time.
First, we practiced traveling from my apartment in Harlem to the INCLUDEnyc office in Union Square. Then, I attended an INCLUDEnyc program workshop called “Traveling Around NYC.” The workshop was a citywide scavenger hunt. We were given different routes around the city and I had learned enough by that time that I was able to serve as a group leader!
After that, I spent more time one-on-one with the INCLUDEnyc educator. I practiced a lot!
Finally, I felt like I really understood the subway, and my mom had more confidence in me. She wasn’t as worried about me anymore. I was able to travel to the park, a recreational center in my neighborhood, and the movies. I felt so free! On top of that, the INCLUDEnyc educator helped me apply for a reduced rate MetroCard. I felt like I could go anywhere. And I started thinking about getting a job and living on my own. I felt great.
I enrolled in ACCES-VR and started my job training. When I completed my training, I applied to several jobs and I received an offer. Today, I’m working at Salesforce. I work with the maintenance team and keep the offices clean. I’m also working towards other professional and personal goals. I want to start building my savings for the future. Being able to make money and travel throughout the city has changed my life. I am more independent than ever.
Jamel Berry participated in INCLUDEnyc’s Project Possibility program, which provides intensive support for youth who are transitioning into adult life. As a member of NYS Transition Partners, INCLUDEnyc is a leading Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) PTIC organization providing young adults with disabilities and their families with postsecondary education and employment resources.
Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.