Children with special needs often transition between home and school and rarely have the access other children do to neighborhood play dates, social time, or community programs and activities. Community involvement is essential to a child’s development. Pathways provides a continuum of after school programs for children that begin at the age of 3 and continue to 21. Each step in our pyramid is designed to give children the skills and self esteem to take advantage of the many opportunities available in their community and help them reach their own individual success.
For children with special needs, the process of obtaining successful independence and employment does not follow a natural timeline or progression. It takes concerted effort, planning, and preparation to work through the challenges that disabilities create. It requires strong and consistent educational, parental, and community participation at every level. Pathways has developed an array of programs that not only incorporate essential skills, but can be implemented at home, school, or community settings. In addition, these programs provide early intervention and meet three to five times a week, providing consistent reinforcement to children and their families.
In order for inclusion to become a reality, Pathways invests a tremendous amount of time into training the children that will make up our future generations. Consequently, Pathways has also developed a pyramid model for our mentor program. Our approach to mentoring uses a horizontal approach where children of all abilities learn from each other. Children can start mentoring at the age of 8 after taking our formalized mentor training program. We encourage all mentors to develop leadership skills and offer opportunities for them to design programs, teach others, and advocate for social reforms they are passionate about. The mentors can also become interns for Pathways and apply for various paid employment opportunities.
Pathways has creatively blended all of our children's programs into a pyramid for success as shown in the diagram above. We believe that success moves beyond performing a simple act of kindness, tolerating, or accepting people. Our goal is to help children to realize how exceptional they really are and to continuously show them the empowerment that comes from inclusion. We hope to create a cultural change that challenges students to be change makers who will be empowered to leave a legacy in their own life and that of others.
Pathways formulates innovative ideas and works to build collaborative partnerships that can effectively implement them. Pathways provides consultative services, leadership training, and financial assistance to help communities build partnerships that promote the inclusion of children of all abilities. Creatively combining resources multiplies expertise, volunteerism, and financial support that ultimately builds a vision for all children's success. Our goal is to help communities become more independent in providing a seamless continuum of services for all children that will give them vital skill sets needed to achieve their fullest potential for employment and independence.
Everyone has something of value to give - the key is to form a cohesive and collaborative support that enables everyone to work toward progressively duplicating this model forward to other communities in need. Pathways has shown that providing programs and services for children with special needs can not only be done cost-effectively, but also can provide far reaching benefits that will improve the communities in which they live. Pathways' goals are aggressive and the urgency for expansion of our programs and services is immediate. We have already duplicated our success in many communities. Building a pyramid toward success happens when everyone works toward the benefit of all children one step at a time.