State honors Disability Mentoring Day with career experiences and talks

For University of Delaware’s Disability Mentoring Day on October 16, nearly two dozen students with disabilities will participate in career-building experiences throughout New Castle County.

“The opportunity that Disability Mentoring Day provides these students to experience possible career paths and explore beyond a classroom is incredibly valuable,” said Gov. John Carney. “As the students consider what is next for them, it’s important they have the chance to discover for themselves what their calling is, and just as importantly, what it isn’t, as they look to their future.”

Disability Mentoring Day is a national program usually held in October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies started the first Disability Mentoring Day in Delaware 10 years ago. Now a collaboration of agencies have joined the center, including the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Education, the New Castle County Transition Committee, DisabilityIN: Delaware and Easterseals of Delaware & Maryland Eastern Shore, in planning events.

Courtyard Marriott-University of Delaware will host the first event, with 15 students from UD’s Career & Life Studies Certificate (CLSC) program and six from the Spectrum Scholars program. The students will hear from Anthony Pacilio, vice president at JPMorgan Chase and program manager for JPMorgan’s Autism at Work program.

JPMorgan Chase launched Autism at Work in July 2015 as a four-person pilot program to employ people on the autism spectrum. Since then, it’s grown to more than 150 employees in eight countries.

Following the morning session, participants will take part in job shadowing experiences with employers in New Castle County before returning to the hotel for lunch and reflections on their experiences.

Work sites that will provide job shadowing for the CLSC students are VCA Newark Animal Hospital, Early Learning Center at UD, Winterthur Museum and Library, Delaware Museum of Natural History, The College School, Short Order Productions Teakettica Graphic Design, Passport Health, Embassy Suites, You’ve Been Framed and DelDOT Canal District Terminal. The Spectrum Scholars students will be shadowing at UD Prosthetics Laboratory, Predictive Analytics Group and JPMorgan Chase.

“The benefits to the students, the businesses and mentors taking part in Disability Mentoring Day are countless,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, cabinet secretary for Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services. “Not only do the students get a feel for the employment options available to them when they are ready, the employers get a chance to see the potential benefits of having a diverse workforce.”

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