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Program helps students transition with P.A.L.S.

EASIER TRANSITION — School of Bright Promise students are making friends at the P.A.L.S. adult day service program currently located at the former Jeffco Training Center in Steubenville so they will be able to transition more easily after graduation. Among those participating are, from left, student Dale McCoy with Billy Boleigh, Jody Bucy and Donnie Armstrong; intervention specialists Lori Trikones and Janice Hague; and adult day service participant Jaimie Anderson. Isaiah Tingler also is a participant. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — Secondary students at the School of Bright Promise are integrating into adulthood by attending daily activities with P.A.L.S.

The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities has partnered with P.A.L.S., a Chrysalis company based in Gahanna, on a transition program enacted this year where soon-to-be graduates of the School of Bright Promise visit the adult day service program currently located at the former Jeffco Training Center in Steubenville. Two groups are transported — with one in the morning and another in the afternoon-to spend more than an hour painting, playing games, doing puzzles and interacting with adult patrons. The transition program began this past spring and recent Bright Promise alumni take part in the adult day service. Hopes are to keep the momentum going so future alumni can move on more easily.

“The students come to P.A.L.S. every day,” said Lori Trikones, an intervention specialist at the school. “They have puzzles, coloring, painting, crafts or can watch TV or play Wii.”

Trikones said the students also get a chance to interact with the special needs adults because it is important for them to socialize, plus she hoped they could eventually join the adults on outings.

Student Dale McCoy said he enjoyed the program immensely.

“It’s good,” he said. “I like doing puzzles.”

P.A.L.S., which stands for physical activity and life skills, emphasizes daily living, health and wellness and education, vocational and art programming. It further encompasses community engagement and job training to attending area community colleges. Participants may choose between activities in each of the focus areas and have daily involvement in the community, while P.A.L.S. and a transition team develop a schedule centered on the individual’s needs to ensure a smooth transition. Patrons may take part in activities such as decorating cards for nursing homes, fishing at Friendship Park or Tappan Lake, visiting the Jefferson County Airpark, swimming at the Big Red or Toronto pools or playing basketball at Belleview Park, among others. P.A.L.S. was formed by Mingo Junction native Aaron Bracone in 2012 and also has locations in Heath and Columbus, and Bracone brought a program to Jefferson County last year with plans to move the site to Mingo Junction.

This year, the board transitioned out of providing adult services to meet federal mandates and allow for more inclusion of developmentally disabled individuals into the community. The board is now refocusing efforts on the school and assisting residents at the Shaffer Plaza Apartments. The transition concept was formulated between P.A.L.S. and board leadership and the former, which is a private organization, has more flexibility for creative adult programming. With this new venture, officials can bridge the gap between graduating students and the adult program.

Amanda Halter, individual support coordinator for P.A.L.S., said the transition program has gone very well and the students, adults and P.A.L.S. staff have responded positively.

“They are fitting in very well and the staff enjoys working with the students,” Halter added. “We want to get [the students] acclimated so once they graduate, it’s not a culture shock.”

P.A.L.S. Program Director Tracey Thomas said officials were pleased to partner with the school for this endeavor.

“P.A.L.S. is extremely proud of the arrangement we have with the School of Bright Promise. It gives us a way to meet the family and friends of the graduating students.”

Jane Bodo, the Bright Promise principal, said her students gain experience and make friends in the process.

“The students that have been participating in the transition program with P.A.L.S .have flourished and are very excited to continue with the program. Our students have reconnected with former classmates as well as made friends with some new faces.”

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