The STRIVE Day Program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has had a busy calendar of events this spring including hosting an art show featuring STRIVE participants’ artwork and a focused afternoon learning about the job interview process.
Paul Aronsohn, the NJ State Ombudsman for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities cut the ribbon to open the art show, followed by classical music performed by a quartet string ensemble of students from Cresskill High School. Artwork created by members of STRIVE was hung throughout the Children’s Aid and Family Services offices. Family and friends as well as Children’s Aid staff attended the show, with many making purchases, and some popular pieces even triggering friendly bidding wars. “It was such an enormous sense of achievement for the STRIVE members,” says Maria Ashkenazi, Supports Director at Children’s Aid. “They were so proud that the pieces they produced themselves were appreciated and purchased. It was a huge success.”
A few weeks prior, STRIVE support coach Akilah Williamson, who works with a group of about six adults, organized a job interview activity for them. She spoke to each participant beforehand about the interview process, including proper communication skills, body language, using eye contact, and the importance of their appearance. They came in that day dressed appropriately, with resumes prepared, and went through a mock interview conducted by Akilah. At the end of the day, she gave them each a certification of achievement recognizing their successful completion of the process. “They were just beaming. They felt like they had reached an important accomplishment,” says Maria. “Activities like these really help boost our members’ self-esteem and prepare them for a possible part-time job or volunteer opportunity in the future.”