STEUBENVILLE – Students set to graduate from the School of Bright Promise next year will get some experience with adult programming through a planned partnership with PALS.

School Principal Jane Bodo said eight students would venture to the PALS site currently located on Cherry Avenue in Steubenville for several hours a day to become active in the adult day services program. PALS, which stands for “physical activity and life skills,” is a Chrysalis Health company based in Gahanna, Ohio, that was formed by Mingo Junction native Aaron Bracone in 2012 and also has locations in Heath and Columbus. It offers an array of person-centered programs from residential services and community respite programs to vocational training and employment services and the goal is to help special needs adults become acclimated with mainstream society and all of the opportunities it brings.

“Next year, we’d like to partner with PALS and students in the senior class and start to introduce them to the different parts of adult programming with PALS on a daily basis,” said Bodo. “We would like to do a couple of hours each day so they can see the extra options for adult programs and PALS has been very accommodating.”

She added that the students would attend class for most of the day before traveling to PALS for activities and two students got a chance to take part during the recent school year.

JCBDD transitioned out of providing adult services to meet federal mandates and allow for more inclusion of developmentally disabled individuals into the community. The board is now refocusing efforts on the school and assisting residents at the Shaffer Plaza Apartments. The transition concept was formulated between PALS and JCBDD leadership and the former, which is a private organization, has more flexibility for creative adult programming. With this new venture, officials can bridge the gap between graduating students and the adult program.

PALS Program Director Tracey Thomas said the company will work closely with the school over the next year to provide a structure for transitioning the graduating seniors from a school setting to adult programming.

“The scope of the transition to PALS will emphasize a very personalized approach for each student,” she said. “This person-centered approach will create an understanding of the student’s interests and will allow PALS to identify what is important to him or her in a wide range of areas of adult life. Students will spend a half-day or a full day at the day program depending upon their needs.”

Students will explore different opportunities available through day programming and familiarize themselves with a new environment, as well as develop new friendships with other adults in the program. PALS’s adult day services emphasizes daily living or life skills, health and wellness, education, vocational and art programming, which encompasses community engagement and job training to personal fitness and attending area community colleges. Participants may choose between activities in each of the focus areas and will have daily involvement in the community.

Thomas continued that PALS and a transition team will develop a schedule centered on the individual’s needs to ensure a smooth transition.

“PALS strives to establish unique supports that are tailored to each individual’s success in the program. It has the ability and flexibility to design strength-based supports that are most conducive to each individual’s successful transition from school-aged programs to adult life. During the planning meetings, family, parents and guardians will determine the state date for full-day participation once the student graduates.”

She said the purpose of the partnership was to prepare the seniors for a successful experience into the next phase of their life, plus it would expose them to an environment outside of a classroom setting and enable them to be part of the community as adults.

“We are excited to develop a partnership with the School of Bright Promise for the positive accomplishments of the students,” Thomas concluded. “The transition team is a great way to expose students who are preparing for graduation to adult life and to make known to them a life outside of the school.”