By Kelly East
Project BRIDGE (Building Recreational Independence and Developing Gateways to Employment) is a post-secondary (high school) program for students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities who have opted to defer receipt of their high school diploma. The program is a collaboration between Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Shake-a-Leg Miami.
This program provides specialized instruction in the field of marine sciences, boating, and recreation. Project BRIDGE is individualized for each student in preparation for competitive employment. In addition, Project BRIDGE teaches the skills necessary for students to transition to the community they live in. The students also participate in water activities such as sailing and kayaking.
The goal of the program is to prepare high school students with the essential job skills to obtain meaningful employment. Some of the skills are basic such as punctuality, ability to follow directions. Others are more specific to the area of work performed under the supervision of the SALM staff. Current projects include boat building and housekeeping.
Through my 15 years at Project BRIDGE/Shake a Leg Miami. I have witnessed the growth of dozens of students who have completed the program. They have entered with a few skills and left being very capable adults who are ready to enter the world of work. Confident and knowledgeable about their role in the community they are poised and ready to transition to independence and adulthood. I am amazed every year by the progress these students make.
Also impacted by the program are the staff and volunteers who work side by side with the students on a weekly basis. They learn about the diversity of young people with disabilities and the capabilities they possess. Without the staff and volunteers, Project BRIDGE would not be a successful program.
Project BRIDGE is open to all MDCPS high school students who have an IEP and have deferred a diploma.
For more info and to apply to Project BRIDGE please visit the links down below.