Community Steps is off to ‘a wonderful start’
Community Steps, a transition program designed by Wilton High School faculty and approved by the Board of Education in April, is off to “a wonderful start,” according to speech pathologist Naomi Williams and special education teacher Melissa Barrett, two of the program’s leaders.
Assistant principal Amy Korn also helps lead the program, which facilitates a coordinated set of transition services for 18- to 21-year-old students to support them as they define and pursue life goals.
Williams and Barrett said the five students in the program this year are “engaging in a meaningful way within their community, following individualized schedules.”
The program has a panel called Community Connections where various community members discuss ways to foster opportunities and provide community service projects for Community Steps students to participate in.
Williams and Barrett said the goal is to “foster vocational opportunities for our students, which requires a partnership with local business.”
“We are also looking for opportunities in which students can be active members of their community by participating in community outreach projects.”
Community Steps students participated in Wilton’s Random Acts of Kindness Day, they said, and are also helping with a Person-to-Person coat drive through the town of Westport’s Make a Difference Day.
Part of the Community Steps program involves providing students with a variety of services and instruction focused around independent living and vocational skills embedded within the Wilton community.
Community Steps students engage in fitness and wellness activities at the Wilton Family Y and are able to work on post-secondary and independent living goals at Comstock Community Center.
Both the staff at the YMCA and Comstock have been “welcoming partners,” Williams and Barrett said.
“A large part of Community Steps is providing our young adults with skills and tasks needed for competitive future employment,” said Barrett. “This goes beyond learning the tasks of a profession, but also learning the soft skills that are embedded within employment.”
Wilton Library, Norwalk Petco and PAWs provide students with individualized vocational internships.
Without their partnership, Williams and Barrett said, “our students would not have the opportunity to develop and generalize their skills in the natural environment.”
Williams and Barrett ask the Wilton community to “embrace the abilities of the young adults in Community Steps.”
“Our students have special skills to offer and by engaging in authentic tasks and activities in their home community, they will continue to grow and also have a chance to give back to their community,” they said.
“This is why we ask the business owners and community service providers of Wilton to collaborate with Community Steps to ensure that our students have the opportunity to become independent, young adults who feel a sense of belonging and contribution in their own community.”
Williams and Barrett said the Community Steps program is “projected to expand over the next year.”
Community members looking to partner with Community Steps may contact Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.