New CCDD PRIME curriculum offers employment exploration

Marty Rains of Bethel chats with the hostess at Rincon Mexicano Restaurant in Eastgate. Rains and other individuals from CCDD had dinner at Rincon after one of their PRIME training classes, in an effort to use skills they learned in class to promote independence while practicing employment skills.
Like most adults, Marty Rains is interested in getting a job. What type of job? He’s not sure. What kind of skills does he need to be successful? He’s not sure about that, either. That is why he participated in PRIME training at the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCDD), and loved every minute of it.

PRIME (which stands for Promoting Real, Inclusive, Meaningful Employment) is a curriculum designed by Krista Clinebell to assist individuals with developmental disabilities in job seeking endeavors. Clinebell is the Activity Program Coordinator for the CCDD Adult Services Division and writes many curriculums for adults who participate in traditional sheltered workshop settings at CCDD. She created PRIME to offer a comprehensive learning experience about community employment options while presenting community choices, neighborhood exploration, and independence.

“We created this unique opportunity for people who are preparing for competitive employment,” said Clinebell. “By combining professional classes with experiences in the community, we were able to learn about each person’s talents and gifts, while making connections in their neighborhoods.”

The basic concept: Nine individuals enrolled in the CCDD Adult Services Program were asked to participate in the PRIME pilot project. They participated in their daily work routine January through April. This included mobile work crews, contracted jobs, and sheltered workshop opportunities. As their regular work days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays came to a close, they attended educational classes at the Batavia Township Community Center. The classes were held from 2 – 3:15 p.m. and focused on many subjects: Personal Awareness and Responsibility, Social Etiquette and Manners, Confidence in Self and Community, and Professionalism. When the class ended at 3:15 p.m., the individuals and staff separated into three groups to visit public places in their respective neighborhoods. The goal was to apply what they had learned in class within their community.

Additional classes were taught on Thursdays by the CCDD Community Employment Department. These classes were held on site at CCDD and focused on real-work scenarios. Skills such as how to interview, how to retain a job and many other employment aspects were discussed at length during this segment of the PRIME training.

“In our efforts to continue to encourage individuals with developmental disabilities to find jobs in the community, this was a method to better connect those people with their communities,” said Dan Ottke, Adult Services Director. “We hope by making these connections, employers in their neighborhoods will get a chance to know them for the great people they are and the skills they have to offer.”

Rains hopes this is the case as well. Since beginning PRIME training four months ago, he has already learned greater self-advocacy skills and independence. When visiting Jungle Jim’s on a PRIME community outing, Rains told CCDD staff he wouldn’t be able to walk through the store.

“Mobility problems have hindered Marty’s ability to do much shopping in the past,” said Clinebell.

When the staff offered Rains a motorized cart, he told her he had never been given this as an option in any store. He didn’t know how to ask for assistance, so he never shopped in large stores.

“We were amazed at how quickly he learned to use the cart and began shopping on his own,” said Clinebell. “Now he has learned one of many ways to be more independent, and he has more confidence to ask for assistance whenever he needs it.”

Speaking up for yourself in an appropriate manner is just one of many skills that can help obtain or retain employment.

Other skills such as properly placing an order at a restaurant, paying for your meal on your own, or asking for a receipt when making a purchase at a store are all skills that help build independence, a necessity when job seeking.

These skills and more were discussed during PRIME classes and then tested in the community immediately following each class. The class ended April 17, much to the disappointment of class members.

Clinebell and the Adult Services team are currently recruiting members from the CCDD Adult Services Department for the next PRIME class, which is slated to begin July 9.