Easter Seals Successful Intern Program

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October 18, 2017
The Easterseals / Best Buddies statewide summer intern program for students with intellectual disabilities produced fantastic results, according to those who participated. The four-week paid internship paired seven students with intellectual disabilities with a mentor. Mentors, arranged through Best Buddies Delaware, worked with the interns as a natural support in the workplace. Easterseals’ Supported Employment Specialists coordinated the work sites and offered on-site support. The intern program was made possible through a Bank of America grant.
Students, mentors, employers and parents agreed the results of the program were outstanding. One hundred percent of the interns said that they learned new skills and felt readier for employment after having completed the internship. Students also indicated that they learned new things about themselves through the program.
Other interns also had positive feedback, Mikenna said, “I enjoyed coming to work every day to make money. This was also a different way to spend the day besides going to school. I liked my co-workers.”
Parents of students also gave great feedback with comments such as, “We learned how to work with a job coach and it helped my son to practice maintaining his behavior on the job.”
Easterseals credits the employers who embraced the internship program – Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (Ocean View), Big Lots (Dover), Grotto Pizza (Long Neck), Walmart (New Castle) and YMCA (Dover). Their feedback was equally positive. They affirmed that the internship helped them realize the value that individuals with disabilities bring to the workplace. 
“The company was able to provide a service for a diverse group that aligns with our mission,” one employer said. “The students were exposed to the world of customer service and teamwork.”
Mentors from Best Buddies all agreed that the experience gave them a better understanding of how disabilities impact individuals, the structure and challenges of community-based supports and how to provide support and maintain dignity of the individual. They all recommended this experience to others in the Best Buddies program.
Easterseals has provided Supported Employment services for over 20 years. Employment service options include Supported Employment and Community Experience programs which offer group employment opportunities. Easterseals Supported Employment services, provided in partnership with the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Developmental Disabilities, are an individualized service, matching the interests and abilities of a supported employee with a job in the community.
Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore offers a range of services, including children’s therapies, assistive technology, recreational camping, day programs for adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, and respite services for caregivers. To learn more about how Easterseals helps children and adults with disabilities, call 1-800-677-3800 or visit www.de.easterseals.com.
The mission of Best Buddies International is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Best Buddies programs include Middle School, High School, College, Citizens, Jobs, Ambassadors and eBuddies. For more information on Best Buddies Delaware, contact Anne Chaffin, 302 691-3187 or annechaffin@bestbuddies.org or visit www.bestbuddiesdelaware.org