Vocational Program Success
Being entrenched in the ABI Community for a number of years, I have witnessed fellow survivors struggle to become engaged and fully committed to the bygone Vocational and Supported Employment practices typically afforded to them. Many survivors simply become disengaged and disinterested when they are slotted into activities they may have limited interest in, find demeaning, or simply do not enjoy. When disengagement occurs, survivors are labeled “resistant”, “lazy”, and “difficult”. The unfortunate implication of being ‘labeled’ threatens a survivor’s level of service as they become faced with the potential to be transitioned to lower quality services. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
What excites me about Mindscape Industries’ Vocational Programming is that it tears up and re-purposes the antiquated vocational services rulebook. This has been achieved as a result of Mindscape’s investment in technology, program equipment - and most importantly - an innovative staffing practice which secures experts from fields outside of traditional disability services. Mindscape provides these experts with the resources and training required to successfully work with, and develop side by side, new vocational services for survivors.
Due to this policy, Mindscape has acquired the staff expertise which enable our survivors to envision and create, according to their ability, new and dynamic vocational programs. These programs capture the survivor’s unique inherent abilities, not lost due to injury, to excite the imagination while at the same time ensuring practical skill development. This policy spawned the “Seeds of Change Initiative” which is an urban gardening program; “Project Resurrection” which is a program for the mining and repurposing of urban artifacts for resale; and “Project Cajon” which is a design and manufacturing program based around multiuse fine art musical pieces.
All the vocational programs mentioned have been developed around Mindscape’s core vocational principles. The first is to teach and assist the survivor to enhance their marketable employment skills; the second is to teach and assist the survivor to develop and create products that have the potential to lead to self-sufficiency through end product sales; and the third is to work with the survivor to assist them to raise awareness for the worldwide ABI/TBI community through the individual products they create. All these efforts contribute to the development of resume relevant experiences.
Moreover, these principles - based on individualized programing - spawned our vocational model which empowers survivors to explore their feelings, reconcile their emotional conflicts and develop self-awareness. Program survivors are better able to self-manage their behaviors, enhance their social skills and improve their personal reality orientation. Our professional staff teach methods related to anxiety reduction which increases self-esteem, and our survivor’s ability to fully engage in our
To date, we are excited by the recognition we have received from our families and business community, which demonstrates the success of Mindscapes’ Vocational Programs. We sincerely hope that other agencies providing vocational services to the ABI population take note of this success, and rather than simply attempting to imitate the vocational model that Mindscape has created, take the time to develop their own independent and specialized versions that provide survivors with truly individualized and specialized employment opportunities alongside the caring supervision of experts passionate in their field.