Thursday, July 2, 2015

Darke DD Helps Youth Look Toward Their Future

Students practice safe cooking procedures while making breakfast burritos.
Switching Gears students enjoyed another week of action packed learning – partly focusing on cooking, budgeting, and grocery shopping. The Summer Youth Program, offered through the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Darke DD) not only teaches kids work skills, the youth also spend time learning independent living skills.

When asked about their hopes and dreams for the future, the majority of the youth said they wanted to live on their own one day. Some wanted to live alone, others wanted to have a roommate, and a few envisioned being married. While most of the students reported doing some cooking at home, they were all very excited to learn new recipes, which also meant some good eating! Darke DD partnered with OSU Extension Office in Greenville for the use of their Learning Center, giving the students a large, modern kitchen to make breakfast burritos and strawberry shortcake. Many learning opportunities were offered during this activity – including food safety practices, teamwork, following directions, problem solving, communication and time management.

Lindsay Balster (back row, far right) and Lauren Warner (front row, far right) with summer youth students and staff.

The program continued to highlight various industries in our area. This week the students toured The Village Green Health Campus to learn about the many jobs within the healthcare field. Lindsay Balster, Staffing and Retention Team Leader, gave a fun and interactive tour of the campus. Students learned that Village Green is referred to as a Health Campus for a reason. “This is their home and we are serving them in their home”. There is not a set schedule that everyone follows, the staff work hard to provide activities and individual schedules that fit with the needs and interests of each resident. “It’s all about them and what they want to do.”, stated Balster.

While at the facility, students were able to meet and talk with Lauren Warner, who received assistance through Darke DD to get her job in dining services. Lauren has been with the company for six months; she started as a dishwasher and now has the added responsibilities of working in the dining room. She sets the tables and helps serve food to the residents. “…[Lauren] does a great job and the residents just love her.”, stated Balster. Lauren previously attended Wayne Industries Sheltered Workshop full time. With the help of Darke DD Community Employment Services, she no longer goes to the workshop - she now works 25 hours per week at Village Green and she will tell you that she loves her job!

If you are interested in learning more about Community Employment Services through Darke DD – contact Rodney Willis, Community First Director at 548-9057 or Visit our website at and like our Facebook page – Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities – for highlights and updates on all the great things happening with individuals with disabilities.

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