Kennett Square, PA – Representatives from the Chester County Intermediate Unit, (CCIU) and the PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) joined together to celebrate the completion of the first MY Work summer employment program at Longwood Gardens on Monday, July 31. The MY Work Initiative is a summer employment program created by OVR to provide high school students with disabilities the chance to work within their local municipalities and nonprofits. The two participants in the Longwood program were Solveig Michael Daniels from West Chester, PA, who graduated in June from Westtown School and will be attending Kutztown University in the fall, and Marc Elliott from West Grove, PA, who is attending CCIU.
During the four-week program Daniels and Elliot worked with Longwood staff on various projects across the Gardens, including covering a greenhouse structure; painting, cleaning, and organizing tool sheds; weeding and mulching; and assisting in the onsite restaurant.
“Solveig and Marc contributed in meaningful ways to create beautiful experiences for our guests,” said Sarah Cathcart, Vice President of Engagement and Learning at Longwood Gardens. “We are honored to partner with MY Work to create these valuable experiences for students as they begin their employment journeys,” she said.
The MY Work Initiative program helps students ages 16-21 contribute to Pennsylvania’s economy and build independent living skills, learn effective communication skills, manage a paycheck, and more. Piloted in nine municipalities throughout Allegheny County in 2016, MY Work established a collaboration between OVR, local education agencies, local government, and non-profit organizations, providing paid work experiences for 50 high school students. Since 2016, OVR has expanded the program statewide to partner with more than 75 municipalities and nonprofits and 20 community rehabilitation providers to give more than 900 students with disabilities paid work experiences in their local communities.
As part of this program, OVR provides the funds for the students’ wages and for a worksite trainer or supervisor to provide support to the students to ensure they gain valuable work-based learning experiences.