With a focus this year on vocational skills development for teenagers with autism, NECC will join the Light It Up Blue campaign in both its Massachusetts and Abu Dhabi, UAE, locations. Other activities include an NECC Employer Appreciation Breakfast, “Test Your Autism Awareness” educational quiz, Team NECC’s participation in the Boston Marathon, and promotion of the NECC Annual 5K Walk/Run for Autism.
April is also a time to draw greater awareness to kids like Liam, whose skills and heart make him a welcome addition at Community Harvest Project in Grafton, MA.
“One of the best things about NECC is the vocational program,” said Simone Pio-Clinton, Liam’s mother. “Liam works at a farm that grows vegetables and fruits that are donated to people in need. Liam has learned basic farm work, how to cut vegetables, weigh them, and wash them. And by contributing in this way, Liam is giving back to the community.”
NECC celebrates Autism Awareness Month with a variety of educational and fundraising events:
- NECC Employer Appreciation Breakfast. This event is scheduled for April 26 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at NECC in Southborough. Current NECC employer partners will be honored for their work with NECC and potential employers can learn more about how they can help students with autism develop meaningful life skills while at the same time benefitting their workplace.
- Autism and Vocational Awareness Educational Quiz. NECC presents an interactive, online quiz that surveys one’s knowledge of employment statistics for those with autism and other developmental disabilities. To take the quiz please visit https://www.necc.org/about-necc/understanding-autism.
- Light It Up Blue. NECC will join the Light It Up Blue campaign with thousands of landmarks and buildings across the world to “light blue” in support of people living with autism. NECC’s John and Diane Kim Autism Institute in Southborough, Mass., and NECC Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will be lit blue all during April. Staff and students will wear blue on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
- Team NECC’s Run of the 2018 Boston Marathon. On April 16, six runners representing Team NECC will run the Boston Marathon, with hundreds of parents, staff and students cheering along the 26.2 mile route. The runners have committed to raising funds to increase awareness and to support autism and vocational services.
- Annual 5K Walk/Run for Autism. In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, NECC will offer a special promotion for its Annual 5K Walk/Run for Autism, which takes place on Saturday, May 12. A $10 registration discount is available for one day only, Monday, April 2, with code AUTISM18. Register at http://necc.convio.net/5K
“Employment is one measure by which we define our membership in society,” said Julie Weiss, Director of Vocational Services at NECC. “Work may also give us social status and provide opportunities for social interaction, which in turn leads to greater independence and improved quality of life.”
Vocational skill development at NECC begins at age 14 and includes vocational exploration, often starting within NECC’s on-site Career Development Center (CDC). The CDC is a first step for students to learn about various jobs, discover preferences for work, practice skills, and gain confidence.
As students at NECC age, the amount of time spent on vocational training increases, as does paid and volunteer work. The goal is to both advance their skill set and develop work endurance. Around age 18, when the transition to adulthood is not far off at age 22, the Vocational Training program focuses on developing adult career goals and securing long-term paid employment.
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