When I first entered PTW, I was a little bit nervous. I’ve had a not-so-great experience with schools in my life, but I was still willing to give it a go, just because I needed a change in my life. From the first time I entered this class till now, I’ve come to enjoy my time in this special program. The instructors are nice and supportive, the students are fun, exciting to meet, and the atmosphere is nice making it easy for us to learn at our own pace. Never before have I ever stepped foot in such a positive program!
Let me explain what PTW is. PTW is a new program housed in the CCI office on the campus of LIU-Post. PTW stands for Positive Transitions to Work. It is offered by PBS Consulting to help meet the needs of young adults with developmental disabilities so they can prepare to enter the world of work.
PTW meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 2pm. PTW students range in age from 18 to 30. The application process to PTW is pretty demanding and includes an in-person interview. Acceptance into PTW is about 29% so I am proud of my place here.
PTW focuses on learning about soft work skills which are so necessary to success at work. We also learn about three fields of career each semester. The goal of the ‘career dives’ is to learn how we can find work in an area we are passionate about. I have learned that people with developmental disabilities have more opportunities than I realized in the adult world. Work is important because you make money in order to support yourself, you don’t get to be a burden to others, and you can broaden your horizons.
The day in PTW starts with a lively discussion of current events which allows discussion based on both student perspective and needs. We do daily research on current events in order to stay informed about the world and to prepare for participating in this discussion. This is the first time I have ever witnessed a classroom experience where the students were consistently happy and excited for school. This atmosphere encourages each student to participate regularly in current events.
We have a daily soft skill class where we learn about what they call “soft work skills”; which are behavioral traits and characteristics that are supposed to help you excel in the workplace. Soft work skills are integral to obtaining and maintaining a job or career.
We explore three deep dives into various career fields each semester. We are also learning to use technology: google slides, google forms, email, email folders, etc. We keep a Google Slide presentation in our soft work skill class. We include information on our assignments or subjects on our Google Slides just to keep ourselves orderly and to have a dynamic history of our learning. Instead of stressful and tight work ethics, the program enables us to learn through consistency and reminders until we engrain it into our minds.
The last part of our day is meeting with our mentors. PTW hosts mentors from the education, special education, social work and speech departments here at LIU-Post.
During my first year in PTW, I’ve finally learned the one thing I really want to do; write my stories. I’ve always had thoughts and ideas about adventures and cool stories in my head ever since I was a kid, but I couldn’t really pursue my dream due to fear that I was unable to meet society’s expectations. But now I’m confident that this is what I want to do and that I am capable of becoming a creative writer.
To prepare for writing this article, I’ve interviewed some of my fellow classmates in PTW to understand how they feel about the program. This preparation helped me round out my article so it is inclusive of the inaugural PTW students and does not simply reflect my opinions.
“I think it’s a great program, it helps people with disabilities, it’s very open to everyone’s beliefs, realities, personal opinions, and sexualities,” – my classmate Tommy said
“My favorite thing about PTW is meeting new friends, getting to know the mentors and having fun in class,” – my classmate Nora said
Most students believe the program is good, but feel it could benefit from more planning and structure. Some also believed that the mention of politics in the classroom is controversial and should be more limited so as to not offend somebody. Nevertheless, everyone said they enjoyed the program, and that they would recommend it to friends and acquaintances. What they liked the most about the program was meeting new friends and the helpful instructors, mentors, and staff they met.
Prior to starting PTW, I had a few hang-ups interfering with my ability to work or even maintain friendships. I have learned that I was not alone in this, some of my peers had inhibitions related to friendships too. This is mainly from putting up with the attitude and problems we encountered when many of us have been picked on, judged harshly or misunderstood. Through my participation in PTW, I have grown past my injurious experiences and am different now. I truly recommend Positive Transitions to Work for students and people with disabilities to enter in the hopes of achieving a brighter dream and a brighter future.
PTW, Class of 2023.