Disability Mentoring Day at Kessler Foundation
Students Andre, Sha-Dair, and Lavar from Horizon High School visited Kessler Foundation to test various jobs for National Disability Mentoring Day (DMD), on October 20.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Kessler Foundation, Rodger DeRose, said, "Kessler Foundation is proud to be a part of this special day. With the unemployment rate for people with disabilities at nearly eighty percent, it's critical to show employers that people with disabilities are just as performance driven and competent as able-bodied individuals while also bringing unique perspectives, skills and increased dedication to the workplace."
Students received employee badges before they rotated to various stations for one-on-one instruction and mentorship. The staff of the Foundation's Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Lab explained and demonstrated the memory studies they conduct on participants with multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Trevor Dyson-Hudson, Interim Director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Lab, explained how simulated driving helps people with various disabilities relearn the skills needed for driving. Each student took a turn at the wheel.
Researchers from the Human Performance and Movement Analysis Lab discussed the careers of Biomedical Engineers and how they apply technical expertise to enhance mobility for people with paralysis.
The students learned purchasing and executive assistant tasks, such as coordinating multiple schedules to make appointments. Whenever they were asked whether they wanted to try a task they responded by saying, "Yes, we're here to learn."
The final stop was Kessler Foundation's mock radio station, where students practiced their interview skills. During lunch, they listened to a Foundation employee, who has a severe physical disability, explain the struggles she encountered in finding employment, how she manages her job tasks and how to maximize their chances of employment.
Since its launch in 1999, DMD takes place on the third Wednesday of October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Goals of DMD include raising awareness of the need to hire people with disabilities, easing the fears of employers, giving individuals with disabilities job exposure and increasing their confidence.
DMD, a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, promotes hands-on career exploration. Local DMD coordinators, which are organizations that work to find employment for people with disabilities, plan the activities for individual states. Allies, Inc., a housing, recreation, healthcare and employment service agency for people with disabilities, served as the local coordinator for N.J.
Once interested, business hosts submitted their applications, and participating students chose where they wanted to go based on career interests. This is the third consecutive year that Kessler Foundation hosted students with disabilities on DMD.