Employment for Youth with Disabilities Part 2

- 3:57

with Katy Neas of Easterseals


Oct 16, 2017

According to the U.S. Department of Education, over 2.8 million students are accommodated for specific learning disabilities. A discussion about inclusive early education programs and their impact in minimizing future challenges for children as they transition to higher education or the workforce. With Katy Neas, Vice President of External Affairs at Easterseals, Inc. Click here for part 1 of Employment for Youth with Disabilities. Interview recorded Sept 27, 2017.

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Traynham: So, let?s focus on that. At Easterseals, do you have a special program, or any type of program, that focuses on that to make sure that that number gets even higher? Neas: Absolutely. You?re gonna think it's a little silly, but one of the things that we believe is learning starts on the first day of your life. Traynham: No, I don't believe that's silly at all. Neas: We have inclusive early-education programs across the country where children as young as 6 weeks of age come together in the same learning environment with kids that don't have disabilities. Those kids learn how to get along, how to follow rules. They learn the academics. But they also have a bigger, I think, social awareness that each one of us has unique strengths, each one of us has unique skills, and that none of us are the same, and if we were all the same, that would be pretty boring. So having that as a skill, an asset that kids take through the rest of their lives makes them better students, better colleagues, better employers, better employees. And we've been doing that since Easterseals began, trying to help kids with disabilities gain the skills they need to be successful. We've broadened the scope of our services to include all kids, because we think all kids, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, can have a brighter future if they have that understanding. Traynham: I'm smiling because I'm a big proponent of early-childhood learning. The baby and their brain and the neurons that are going on, I mean, it's just billions of neurons that are being synapsed all throughout their life. But I want to now transition to the adulthood. What else can we be doing as a society to raise the awareness that these individuals are just as precious and should be valued as anyone else? What should we be doing? Neas: Absolutely. I think -- If you look at the statistics of the unemployment rate of adults with disabilities, it's about twice the general population. People with disabilities need more opportunities to try things. A number of our affiliates run a program called Project SEARCH, and it's for high-school students, and they get real work experience in about five different areas over the course of the school year. And those are employers that have said, "We want to give youth with disabilities an opportunity to try out a job to see if they like it and to see if that's a career path that's of interest to them." We need more employers to take that approach of opening their doors, not only to youth, but to other adults with disabilities and seniors to say, "There's a place for you here if that's what you want." And that's a need that we have. You know, one of your previous guests with the Leadership Network on Business is trying to do just that, to really encourage and show employers that it's good business to them to hire people with disabilities. Traynham: Katy Neas, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Keep up the good work. And for those of you out there who would like to get more information about Easterseals, is there a website they can go to? Neas: Sure. Go to easterseals.com. Traynham: Really appreciate it. Neas: Yeah, thanks for having me. Traynham: And for more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Robert Traynham.

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