TACT Creates New Summer Program Designed to Teach Trade and Technical Skills to Individuals with Int
TACT redesigns their summer program to include individuals with IDD
A mill levy partner that offers trade and technical training for neuro-diverse people has adapted its programming in response to the coronavirus pandemic and will offer one-on-one sessions this summer instead of a group summer camp experience. TACT, which stands for Teaching the Autism Community Trades, also is broadening its audience to include Denverites who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
TACT was founded in 2016 and is the first and only trade program in the nation specifically created for individuals on the autism spectrum. Through the generous support of Denver taxpayers who voted to dedicate a portion of their property taxes to support individuals with intellectual and development disabilities, RMHS is able to support TACT with mill levy funding. The support means TACT can offer these one-on-one training opportunities at no cost to Denver residents with autism and other intellectual developmental disabilities.
“We expanded our reach to the entire I/DD community to provide services to a larger community in need,” said Becky Mershon, Director of Programs and Development at TACT.
TACT expanded its programming to people with I/DD in an effort to make up for cancelled programming, which is a widespread reality this summer as many organizations deal with concerns about COVID-19.
The summer program offers Denver residents with I/DD seven 90-minute lessons that teach skills in the technology and trade fields. The one-on-one lessons are offered in person, with a Career Technical Education certified instructor. Members can choose from lessons in five different fields: auto mechanics, carpentry, sewing, STEM and welding.
TACT made adaptations to the way it delivers programming in an effort to protect the communities it serves.
“We serve a vulnerable population, we wanted to make sure it was as safe as possible for everybody, while also meeting a significant need in programming and job training opportunities for this population” Mershon said.
Both instructors and students are being prescreened, having their temperatures taken, wearing masks and the rooms, equipment and materials they use are sanitized after each use. Instructors and attendees stay six feet apart and follow additional public health guidance intended to lessen the spread of the virus.
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.3 percent of persons with a disability were employed in 2019. Likewise, one of the most comprehensive U.S. surveys ever done on adults with disabilities in the workforce, The National Snapshot of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in the Labor Force, states that “The employment outlook for adults with I/DD will continue to be bleak until new ways are found to meaningfully incorporate this population into the labor force.”
TACT is an organization that aims to, generate new ways for those with autism and I/DD to be successful in competitive and integrated employment.
“We knew that individuals with I/DD could benefit from our program as well,” Mershon said. The trainings are provided to help these individuals prepare to fill roles in the trade and technical fields.
TACT was able to offer these lessons free of charge to Denver residents with I/DD through Denver mill levy funds at Rocky Mountain Human Services. The organization’s 2020 mill levy-funded initiative is designed to prepare individuals on the autism spectrum prepare for employment in trade and technical fields through training.
To learn more about other Denver mill levy funded initiatives at RMHS please visit, www.rmhumanservices.org/ml