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New Hope-Solebury School District to launch BRIDGE program

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New Hope-Solebury will provide a transition program for students ages 18-21 with developmental disabilities.

Starting this fall, New Hope-Solebury School District will launch a new BRIDGE program to prepare students ages 18-21 with development disabilities for life beyond graduation. Focused on the transition from school to employment, BRIDGE stands for Becoming Responsible Independent Dependable Gainfully Employed Adults. Classroom instruction and interactive workplace experiences will support students’ preparation and success by exploring topics, including job training and retention, personal hygiene and financial planning, safety and consumer knowledge, and social engagement skills. Ultimately, the program will empower students to navigate independent living, to maintain employment, and to engage meaningfully with others throughout their lives.

“We spoke with our teachers and families and found there was an unmet need for a program like this in our district,” said Colleen Bell, New Hope-Solebury School District’s supervisor of student services. She continued, “The programs currently available to students placed an undue burden on their families to drive significant distances. There was also a critical opportunity being missed to deepen the students’ connections within their own community. We are excited to have found a way to meet their needs, right here at home.”

The district maintains ongoing relationships with local partners to provide developmentally-appropriate, hands-on learning activities and tasks for students in the workplace, such as shredding paper, stocking shelves, filing and folding. In anticipation of the program’s upcoming launch, district educators are looking to expand their roster of opportunities and build new partnerships with New Hope-Solebury businesses and organizations. “Observing my students during their high school years, I believe the chance to learn in real-world settings is critical to their growth. Not only do they gain important skills, but they experience how they can contribute to the world around them,” said Rory Yerkes, a special education teacher and instructor for the BRIDGE program.

The BRIDGE program will serve students who recently graduated from New Hope-Solebury School District, and there are plans to expand the program beyond these borders in the future. “We are delighted to begin offering the BRIDGE program, which reflects the innovative, personalized educational experiences we endeavor to offer all of our students,” expressed Dr. Charles Lentz, superintendent of schools.

To connect with the district about an opportunity for a BRIDGE student, contact Rory Yerkes, program facilitator, at ryerkes@nhsd.org or Colleen Bell, supervisor of student services, at cbell@nhsd.org.

New Hope-Solebury School District

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