Students with special needs in Independent School District (ISD) 318 will have a host of new opportunities when the new Quest Transition Program opens its doors on Feb. 25 at MDI. Quality Universal Education and Skills Training, or Quest, is a new program designed for students with special needs ages 18 to 21 to learn life skills through immersive educational experiences.

“We’re very excited to be able to meet our students’ needs in a new way,” said ISD 318 Special Services Director Brent Brunetta of the new program.

According to Brunetta, the district’s previous transition program was housed at the high school, which “wasn’t ideal as students saw their peers move on to post-secondary or community employment opportunities.”

Quest will provide instruction and hands-on learning centered around employment, budgeting, social skills, connecting with community agencies and more.

The program will be housed in Cohasset at MDI, a non-profit local manufacturing and product assembly organization where nearly half its employees are people with disabilities.

Peter McDermott, President and CEO of MDI, said the type of training to be offered by the new Quest program is “desperately needed” and is “reflected by the high unemployment rate for people with disabilities.”

“At MDI, we know that each person has ability and brings unique value to the workplace, and we are incredibly excited to be partnering with the district to provide space for this important program,” McDermott said.

Quest will include one full-time instructor, with additional support from the district’s nursing services, school psychology services, school social worker and a work experience coordinator. The district will also partner with MDI and other outside agencies to provide employment experiences for students.

“This new program will provide services for our young adults as they progress from an educational setting toward living and working as independently as possible in our community,” said Brunetta. “This program will ensure that our students with special needs have the opportunity to fully participate in our community and engage in meaningful employment.”

Grand Rapids area businesses are invited to contact ISD 318 Special Services at 218-327-5705 for a tour of the new learning center and to learn how to get involved.

Source: Grand Rapids Herald Review, published 2/17/2019, accessed 2/25/2019. Full article here.