To prepare students for a meaningful adult future, Camden Post Secondary Program focuses training on several areas. These are considered to be generic components of the program for students. Each student undergoes training in each area that is individualized based on the student's strengths, preferences, interests, and needs (SPIN). Program components are implemented and supported by Camden Post Secondary teachers, paraeducators, and job developers as appropriate.
1. Job / Vocational Training: The legal mandate for all transition programs is to prepare students for a job or a vocation in the future. Camden Post Secondary Program prepares students through two ways: (a) Students receive training while on the job and (b) through pre-teaching job / vocational skills in a job workshop that is conducted in the classroom. While the program is legally mandated to train students with these skills, placing them on paid jobs is not a mandate. However, the program supports students who have already acquired the necessary skills to get and maintain a paid job regardless of the mandate. The program works closely with job developers toward this end.
Although employment is a typical pathway for students to earn an income as an adult, the program also looks at entrepreneurship or self-employment as an alternative pathway. Students could be trained to help with an existing family business or develop their own business based on the student's unique strengths, preferences, interests, and needs (SPIN).
2. Continuing Adult Education: This training focuses on skills that are critical to becoming an adult. The program has identified the following as priority skills for training: (a) Self-determination skills such as self-advocacy, choice-making, problem-solving, self-awareness, self-monitoring, goal setting, decision-making, leadership skills; (b) Social skills / healthy relationships; (c) Functional academics (i.e., reading, writing, and math) as applied in various adult contexts such as work setting, grocery stores, banks, medical/ hospital setting, public transits, etc; (d) healthy living; (e) community/ internet safety; (f) money/time management; (g) job / vocational training; (h) student-led / co-led IEPs, and (i) citizenship training (e.g., voting rights). Given this array of priority skills to be learned, the program schedules direct training on a yearly / semester basis. Direct instruction is conducted through workshops, individual training such as the implementation of each student's IEP goals, and community based-instruction (CBI).
3. Community College Experience: The program provides opportunities for young adult students to be with typical peers such as in a community college campus. Students take a community college class depending upon their choices and academic skills. For students whose academic skills levels are not within the college standard (e.g., below grade reading level), students choose to take non-academic classes (e.g., gym class, arts, PE, a computer class for students with disabilities, etc). Through a college experience, students learn what it means to be in an inclusive environment for adults.
4. Independent Living Skills: In addition to training students on independent living skills based on their IEP goals, the program also trains students in the following areas: (a) transit/mobility skills, (b) domestic skills such cooking, doing laundry, making a bed, (d) self-care, and (f) community safety skills.
Teaches students to take public transportation (i.e., bus, LRT) in two aspects: (a) actual bus riding and (b) using the VTA app to map out one's direction.
- Actual bus riding: Students learn these skills using a task analysis strategy. This entails breaking down bus riding process into concrete steps for students to learn each step. For example, a student will learn each step in taking public transportation such as (1) wait on the correct bus stop, (2) identify the correct bus number, (3) wait for bus to stop before boarding, (4) step inside the bus after door opens, (5) hold on the rail, (6) greet the driver "good morning" or "good afternoon", (6) show/ insert bus card, (7) look for a seat while holding on to the bus rail, (8) take a seat without invading a passenger's space, (9) look around the bus for safety, (10) look for landmarks for the right direction, (11) press button when destination is at sight, (12) wait for bus to stop, (13) stand up and hold on to bus rail, (13) say "thank you" to the bus driver, (14) step off the bus onto the curb. Some students learn all the bus riding steps to a mastery level that allows them to be independent travelers (e.g., taking the bus from home to school and vice-versa, taking the bus from work to home and vice-versa, taking the bus from school to to work and vice-versa, etc) while others could learn and be independent only in some of these steps. For the latter, the student has achieved some degree of independence while needing support in only those steps not learned. Not all students could be fully independent in learning these skills but they could be given the opportunity for "partial participation" which is still training towards independence.
- Using the VTA app: Students are taught to use the VTA app before taking the bus toward a certain destination. Through this app, students are able to map out their direction by identifying the correct bus to take, the correct bus schedule or when the bus arrives. By learning to use the VTA app, students are also able to problem solve when they ran late for the bus, when they get off at the wrong bus stop, or even when they have to change to a new bus route due to a schedule change.
Mobility training: Refers to teaching students how to navigate one's way in a particular environment. Students learn to locate a favorite store or restrooms at a mall, students learn to find the location of classes when at a community college, and locate various aisles when working at a retail store (e.g., working at Safeway) to name some examples.
- Cooking. The program has a kitchen located at its premises. Teachers schedule cooking lessons for all students on an ongoing routine. Students learn to cook on a stove or in a microwave, learn to follow a recipe, learn food preparation skills (e.g., slicing, chopping, etc), learn kitchen safety skills (e.g., ensuring that the stove has been turned off after cooking), learn pre-requisite skills prior to handling food (e.g., hand washing, wearing an apron, making sure that hair is tied up so it does not get into the food being cooked), and clean up after cooking (e.g., washing dishes, putting away used items in appropriate shelves). In addition to learning how to cook, students also get to expand their food choices.
- Doing Laundry: The program has a washing machine located on its premises and students do laundry on a rotating schedule. To conduct training, students are encouraged to bring their dirty laundry to school and wash them following systematic steps to doing laundry (e.g., separate whites from colored clothes, choosing the appropriate cycle, measuring liquid soap, etc). Students also learn how to fold the laundry once completed.
- Making a Bed: The program has also a semblance of a bedroom on its premises that has a bed where students can learn this skill. Teaching entails instruction on how to change into fresh sheets by removing the used or dirty bedsheets from the bed, putting in clean sheets by learning how to tuck in fitted sheets, laying out the flat sheet across the bed, arranging pillows and blankets so one is able to lay on the bed comfortably. Just like training on cooking and laundry, instruction in this area is scheduled on a routine basis.
Self-Care: This encompasses a variety of skills depending on students' needs. Some examples are ensuring that one comes to school in clean clothes, wearing appropriate clothing for work, hair has been comb and well kept, the student has showered, brushed teeth, and has the appropriate grooming skills.
Community Safety Skills Training: These skills are pre-taught in the classroom and demonstrated by students in the community. Community safety skills include but are not limited to crossing the street safely, taking the bus, walking in the streets, and overall, becoming aware of safety around strangers. As a general safety rule, the program prohibits students from accessing their cell phone or any kind of a device while in the community. The only times when they could access their device are (a) in an emergency when they have to call family or staff and (b) when needing to use the VTA app to access a new bus route.
5. Physical Fitness: The program aims at providing students with opportunities to engage in physical fitness activities in inclusive community settings. Several students are currently enrolled at a community college taking a PE class. Others are performing these activities (e.g., jogging, brisk walking) in the community while others are engaged in yoga and Zumba in their classrooms. The program is looking into other physical fitness activities that are community-based (e.g., swimming).
6. Opportunities for Participation in the Community's On-Going Routines: In preparation for students leaving the school system when they age out at 22 years old, the program provides students with opportunities to participate in on-going community routines. This not only allows them to become familiar with community routines that typical adults engage in but also helps them identify a community routine that they could sustain as part of their adult lifestyle. Some community routines that could be part of a student's adult lifestyle are taking the bus to work, working in an inclusive job setting (e.g., Safeway), having lunch with co-workers, shopping in one's favorite store, taking a community college class (e.g., gym), grocery shopping, going to the movies with friends, attending to medical appointments, paying bills and utilities to maintain one's chosen lifestyle, to name a few of these community routines. The program continues to expand opportunities for community routines as it sees fit depending upon the evolving needs of the students. Staying at home after exiting from the school system is not an option, hence the program's efforts to identify community routines to form part of the adult student's future lifestyle.