July 14, 2011 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.) (WLS) — A group of parents from Naperville started an organization that focuses on job opportunities for their children and peers with disabilities.
NapervilleWorks started in 2007 as a partnership between parents, local business professionals and school vocational coordinators. Marjorie Sillery is one of the parents involved.
“We literally go out into the community, meet with businesses, meet with civic groups and give them the benefits of working with students with intellectual abilities,” Sillery said.
Students in the program are from Naperville school districts 203 and 204 and also Indian Prairie District 204 from ages 18 to 21.
“There is so much need out there, especially in this area for jobs for the students,” said Sillery. “Sadly, when they leave transition, only about 10 percent of them are employed at any level full-time or part-time.”
Alex Lints is lucky. He has autism spectrum disorder and is working part time as a clerk at Naperville’s school district’s office. At 21, his mom Deborah is grateful that her son has a job.
“He right now started this job two days a week for a couple of hours a day, and hopefully as time goes on that will increase,” said Deborah. “He needs that interaction with people and it helps him to grow as a young adult. My prayer for three years has been, ‘Just please give him a job that he will be comfortable in working with people and to have it be here in the school district.’ It’s really phenomenal.”
Vocational coordinator and transition specialist for the Indian Prairie School District Cyndy Perez says NapervilleWorks is a great resource for them.
“They help us by developing leads, by creating awareness, and then it gives us a lot more to go with,” said Perez. “So we as the school district can get out there and develop the job and help train the students to make a long-term successful employment opportunity.”
Alex is a good example as this kind of partnership is unique.
“I know of no other organizations quite like NapervilleWorks in the state of Illinois,” said Perez. “The unique thing about NapervilleWorks is that it harnesses the network of all the parents and the community, and it brings all those linkages to the school system that may only have a couple of vocational coordinators to develop opportunities…We’re going to need a lot more organizations like that I think to get these young adults employed, because without that, there’s not going to be jobs for them, and they’re good workers.”
To learn more about NapervilleWorks go to napervilleworks.webs.com.