PILR provides many opportunities for youth. In 2001, after having several discussions about ways to encourage youth with disabilities to become employed, we became the local host for disability mentoring day (DMD). In our first year, we placed 19 students from Hutchinson High School with local businesses for a day of job shadowing. In 2014, between the Hutch and Pratt offices, we placed almost 250 students from 19 different schools with mentors for a job shadowing experience.  PILR hosts DMD the third Tuesday (Pratt) and Wednesday (Hutchinson) in October.  If you are interested in participating in DMD, click on the following link for further information and the application.

In 2006, through conversations staff had with disability student service coordinators, we realized many college students struggled advocating for themselves.  Often, this led to failure.  Because of this information, we were inspired to develop a one day advocacy training. Over the years we have covered a lot of different topics but there are core messages that we try to get them to understand. First, disability is not a bad word and they should be proud of all of their characteristics including their disability. Second, once they leave high school, whether it is regarding employment or education, if they can’t disclose their needs, and ask for accommodations, they will not receive them. Finally, it is their community, state and country and they have the right and the responsibility to be involved.

Another program PILR is involved with that promotes employment to students with disabilities is Job-a-thon. This is collaboration between PILR, the South Central Educational Cooperative and businesses in the Pratt area. Job-a-thon is a one day interactive event that exposes young people to many different career opportunities.

In 2014, PILR provided our first Living Well with a Disability (LWWD) class at a local high school.  LWWD is a training that encourages participants to see health in a very broad way. While it does cover typical topics such as exercise and good nutrition; it also covers topics such as goal setting, communications, and advocacy.

For the last several years, PILR has spent time during the summer at the Hutchinson Boys and Girls Club. We teach the members about acceptance, inclusion, and respecting others. We also do some disability simulations showing them that people with disabilities are just people like they are.

Over the years we have been involved in other events with youth including projects during global youth service days. We are always willing to go to schools whether they are grade schools, middle schools, or high schools to present programs about disability.

PILR could not provide these opportunities to our youth without the participation and support of individuals and community partners.  Thank you to everyone who invests time and financial support in our youth with disabilities!