A retrospective study of past graduates of a residential life skills program for youth with physical disabilities
- Additional Document Info
- View All
BACKGROUND: Young people with physical disabilities experience issues regarding employment, schooling, independent living and establishing meaningful personal relationships. A lack of life skills has been recognized as an important factor contributing to this lag. The Independence Program (TIP) is a short-term residential life skills program that aims to equip youth with the foundational life skills required to assume adult roles. This study retrospectively examined the achievements, skills acquired and program attributions of youth and young adults who took part in this three-week immersive teen independence program over a 20-year period. METHODS: A total of 162 past graduates were invited to take part, with 78 doing so (a 48% response rate). These past graduates completed an online survey assessing objective outcomes such as employment and independent living; subjective outcomes such as feeling in control and living meaningful lives; and reflections on skills acquired, opportunities experienced and attributions to TIP. RESULTS: The majority of respondents were female (71%), had a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (55%) and ranged from 20 to 35 years of age (92%). Despite a range of outcomes related to the achievement of adult roles, high levels of life satisfaction and overall quality of life were reported. Nearly every respondent reported using the skills they learned at the program in their lives afterwards and a high percentage attributed the acquisition and consolidation of core life skills to participating in this intensive immersive program. CONCLUSIONS: Although causality cannot be assumed, respondents reflected very positively on the opportunities provided by TIP to develop their independent living and life skills, extend their social networks and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Such findings validate the importance of targeted skill development to assist young people with physical disabilities in attaining their life goals and encourage focused investigations of key features in program design.
has subject area