Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc.: Making Healthy Connections (MHC)

PROJECT NAME: Making Healthy Connections (MHC)

PROJECT LOCATION: Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts

ADMINISTERING ORGANIZATION: Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc. (PYD), which empowers youth with physical, sensory and learning disabilities to reach their personal, educational and career goals by providing one-toone and group mentoring programs where adult mentors with disabilities act as positive role models and provide support, understanding and guidance.

CONTACT:

Leslie Lockhart
617-556-4075, ext. 18
617-314-2989 (TTY)
Email
Website
FUNDING SOURCE:
U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund.
POPULATION SERVED: Youth with disabilities between the ages of 15-22

SERVICE TYPE: MHC is a series of interactive discussions and recreational activities designed to help adolescents and young adults with disabilities and special health needs prepare for adult life, with a particular emphasis on health, self-management of health care, and transitioning to adult health services.
SERVICES PROVIDED:
Established in 1997, MHC brings together young people with disabilities and/or special health care needs who are interested in meeting others who share similar experiences and want to gain the confidence and skills needed to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. The goals of the program are to enable young people with disabilities and or special health care needs to: 1) gain a greater understanding of their disabilities and/or special health care needs through interaction with other young adults and mentors who have disabilities and/or special health care needs, 2) build positive communication skills that will help them to describe and educate others about their disability, leading them to advocate for themselves at home, in school, in health care settings, and in the community, 3) develop strategies for taking more responsibility for activities of daily living, including managing their health care, 4) learn how to access resources in the community to help them prepare for the transition to adulthood, 5) explore healthy lifestyles and recreation options, and 6) increase knowledge about educational, career, and independent living options. These sessions are led by mentors with disabilities, with PYD peer leaders acting as role models. MHC also offers training and support to parents of adolescents in the program. Parent transition planning workshops are held at the Boston and Springfield sites and include topics such as personal care assistance, health transition, preparing for jobs and college, assistive technology, transportation options, and working with the educational system are covered in the parent group. In 2002, MHC Boston began an exciting new partnership with Boston Medical Center as a result of support from the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund.