Catholic Charities Wins NE/AER Team Award for Innovative LIFE 101
Program prepares high school students who have a visual impairment with skills they need for life after graduation
Portland, ME -- Maine’s innovative LIFE 101 (Learning, Independence, Fun, Employment) program has been recognized with the Northeast Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (NE/AER) team award.
Catholic Charities Maine is one of the three local agencies who collaborated on LIFE 101 and to receive the award recognizing the work of NE/AER member teams which substantially benefit blind and visually impaired individuals in the Northeast area.
LIFE 101 is a program designed to prepare high school students who have a visual impairment with skills they need for life after graduation. The course is a collaborative effort between Maine’s Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Catholic Charities Maine’s Education Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Children (ESBVIC) program and the Iris Network.
During the inaugural LIFE 101 course eight students participated in the program, where they spent two weeks housed at Southern Maine Community College receiving instruction in daily living and communication skills, orientation and mobility and vocational skills. In addition the students cooked, cleaned, shopped and even participated in a volunteer work experience at Catholic Charities Maine’s Threads of Hope Thrift Store in Portland.
The students traveled by bus to their job and participated in many other recreational activities including taking the train to Brunswick, going out to dinner and visiting Funtown, to name a few.
“We worked hard to ensure that we had an appropriate balance of daily living tasks and extracurricular activities with opportunities embedded throughout to build upon social skills and self advocacy,” notes Nancy Moulton, Program Director for Education Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Children at Catholic Charities Maine.
The three organizations spent nine months working together to ensure that the students had a program that was meaningful to them as they think about life after high school. “LIFE 101 was a success because three agencies came together to deliver a program that encompassed all disciplines working with a defined goal, but the true reward came from seeing our students gain so much from the experience,” Moulton added.
The next LIFE 101 class is expected to take place in July, 2017.