JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Work is an important part of life. It provides more than a paycheck and something to do. It provides dignity and purpose.
For individuals with Down Syndrome, finding a job will soon be made a little easier thanks to a new employment training program.
The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville was founded in 1989 by a handful of families who recognized the need to have a support group for people with Down Syndrome in the Jacksonville community. The organization has grown immensely over the past 30 years and now serves more than 1,800 individuals, families, and community members.
The non-profit has programs that walk with families through the prenatal stage to birth to elementary age to the teenage years and even into adulthood. However, it has always been a challenge to get young adults and adults with Down Syndrome into the work force.
That is all about to change - and, thankfully, for the better.
The DSAJ announced on February 1st that they are expanding their services to include the area's first employment training program. Not only that, but the organization will soon be moving into a new facility suitable to host all of their programs, including this new academy.
Here is the full announcement from Executive Director, Debbie Revels:
"February 1, 2019
Dear DSAJ Friends and Families,
The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville is proud to share two exciting announcements that will significantly impact the children, adults and families we serve in Northeast Florida.
The first development is that we will be moving our office to the Perimeter Business Park on Philips Highway. This new location will allow us to bring our various programs and gatherings in-house while expanding our current initiatives.
For the past 30 years, our families had to travel to various locations across the city to participate in our programs. Now, they will have one central location to receive wraparound services for children and adults with Down syndrome.
The 4,300-square-foot office will allow us to offer the following:
- Lil’ Stars Landing: This area will provide children and parents with a place to play and connect with each other. It will also serve as a space for DSAJ staff to provide daycare services during our workshops.
- Enrichment Center: Our programs will now be held in-house at the new office. This includes our educational workshops, tutoring program, socials (for all ages), including the future adult social club “My Place”, STARZ Dance Team practices, and the Weight Watchers program.
- Culinary Program: The new office will have a full, working kitchen to host cooking and food prep classes along with workshops on how to prepare healthy meals.
DSAJ is also thrilled to launch the area’s first employment training program tailored specifically to individuals with Down syndrome this fall. The DSAJ Career Solutions Training Academy will offer students the opportunity to explore different career tracks, including retail and office skills.
We are confident that this new academy will better prepare adults with Down Syndrome to pursue their career goals and find meaningful employment in the community. The curriculum utilizes the most effective teaching strategies for this population and will incorporate individualized learning plans for our students.
Stay tuned for more information about these exciting developments. Thank you for your support, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
All my best,
Debbie Revels - Executive Director"