So Now What? Keshet’s Transition Program

by Lauryn Smith

Between graduations, warmer weather, and the start of summer, the month of June is always filled with so many exciting things. For many, at Keshet natural step following high school graduation is a transition program. The Coe-Worker Keshet Transition program is designed to provide the necessary support to ease young adults into community life after high school. The curriculum focuses on daily living skills, social and vocational skills, and serves as the perfect bridge from high school and into adult life. Students who opt into the Transition program are primarily from the Keshet High School, and serves as a natural progression of the structure and support they were receiving during that time.

Similar to our other education programs, each transition student has their own daily schedule that is tailored to each of their particular needs, but there’s a strong focus on life skills and job training rather than academics. Within these four years, students learn the necessary tools that can best equip them for individual living. The curriculum is based on skills and information that they would need in the real world such as self-advocacy, problem-solving in the workplace, interpersonal communication, and working with job coaches. Until very recently, students in Illinois were enrolled in transition programs until the day before their 22nd birthdays. Now, all students are able to finish out the school year together regardless of their birth date, allowing for a much more seamless transition out of the program and into the beginning of adulthood.

In addition, students are placed in a work environment that is best-suited for their skill sets and help them determine what jobs most interest them. Our transition students work at a variety of locations across the Chicagoland area, such as the Niles Food Pantry, Sarah’s Tent, school libraries, and even in Keshet’s own Business Office. The work that these students do is meaningful, important, and allows them the opportunity to make a difference in the community they live in. Another highlight of Transition programming is the Coffee Club, which helps them foster social skills in resembling social situations they may experience in adulthood. As a part of this club, students frequently take trips out to a coffee shop to practice going out, ordering and paying, chatting with friends, and discussing current events with others. This is a fun way to prepare them for meaningful social interactions they will likely encounter in the future.

Following the completion of Transition, many students then go on to adult day programs like the one we have at Keshet, and/or begin the process of living independently in residential homes, both of which allow them to apply the self-sufficiency they learned while in Transition. We are excited to welcome two of our transition graduates into our very own GADOL program this upcoming summer and know that they will be well-prepared for what’s to come due to the experiences they had these last four years. And for our high school graduates, well, we’re just getting started. We look forward to having you begin in our Transition program this fall.

To every single one of our 2022 graduates, congratulations! We are so proud of you and look forward to seeing all the amazing things you will accomplish in this next chapter.

Special thanks to Sarah Paul for her contributions to this blog.

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