ADEC’s Vocational Training Center opened its doors Tuesday, October 6 to two packed classes of ADEC Industries consumers. Each class is composed of 15 students, and three more are on a waiting list for the next class. With more than 30 consumers invested in the initial classes at the training center, the future is looking bright at ADEC Industries.

“I was really nervous it wouldn’t be well received,” Susan Faltynski, Employment Services Program Manager shared. “But everyone signed themselves up . . . I’m really excited. This has already grown beyond what I had originally envisioned.”

Susan began working with a focus group composed of eight ADEC staff members four months ago to develop, organize and launch the Vocational Training Center. In this short amount of time, this group met once a week and were able to successfully identify program goals, evaluate and select curriculum, execute a classroom renovation, and advertise the program to ADEC Industries consumers.

When asked how the group was able to focus their efforts and effectively launch the program in short order, Susan credited the consumers with keeping them accountable on the stated launch date, “A lot of it was the AI clients and workers kept saying, ‘When are we going to do this?’ We didn’t want to start out by not keeping our word.”

As the focus group worked to launch the program, they outlined programmatic goals and discussed motivation. “The goal is to help the AI workers to develop and grow as an employee and develop skills that will help them in every aspect of their lives,” Susan said.

For some participants, this class is a chance to pursue the dream of community employment, while others wish to gain confidence and become more productive in their role at ADEC Industries. Others may be working toward gaining skills to live more independently at home. Regardless of where each person is on his or her journey, this class offers the chance to delve deeper and focus on living a meaningful life.

Susan and Erica Miller, employment consultant, co-lead the 30-minute classes. In this first month of meeting, much of the focus has been on understanding the mechanics of goal setting.

For many consumers, this initial goal-setting time will set the terms for their success in the program. They are learning to identify goals for both work and life and how to work toward them effectively. When consumers were asked what goals they have for the future, some of the answers were more money, independence, working with others and improving memory.

“I want them to have as much ownership of the process of possible,” Susan explained. “Letting them have control over their choices – that’s a big thing.”

As Susan and Erica work to empower their students with choice and possibility, they are also focusing on building classroom familiarity. They enjoyed noticing how each person came out of his or her shell to participate and share.

In the coming weeks and months, Susan and Erica will use their curriculum from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Institute to teach interpersonal skills, flexibility, working quickly and accurately, setting priorities, task completion, problem solving, personal hygiene and punctuality.

“[The planning stage] might be done, but it’s just starting,” Susan said.