For over six months, we here at The Pet Resorts – Dunwoody have had the privilege of giving back to our community while prepping these fine students for adult life. Twice a week the LEAP Group students volunteer at our facility by completing a wide arrange of daily tasks as well as enjoying hands on fun with our pets!
LEAP is an innovative, non-degree program designed for students who want to strengthen their overall life skills in order to achieve independence. Applicants may be high school graduates or individuals who could benefit from job readiness training, life skill development, and scholastic support. The goal of this program is to produce independent young adults by helping them improve their job-related, social/ emotional, and communications skills.
In LEAP, individuals are guided to set realistic, attainable goals as they develop a personal plan for living. LEAP fosters relationships with local businesses to help participants gain real-life job experience with the aim of obtaining employment upon completion of the program. Students join LEAP having graduated from private and public schools throughout the Atlanta metro area. Current students have a wide variety of skill sets and needs. LEAP evaluates each participant’s specific skills and needs in order to help them create a plan for future success.
Along with on-the-job training, LEAP participants attend classes on a daily basis. The classes that are offered allow students to further their education by developing important and necessary life, interpersonal, and daily living skills. Classroom instruction is from 12:45 – 2:30 for the full day program and 11:30 – 12:15 for the half day. The low student-to-teacher ratio allows personalized attention in the classroom and on the work sites. The classes cover aspects of personal finance, computer essentials, social skills, communication, and independent living.
A prime component of the LEAP program is on-site work experiences. Elements of job readiness and training are developed throughout the day. Students are taught how to create resumes, apply for jobs, and strengthen communication skills. The program facilitates practical job skills by arranging for off-site work experiences at local business establishments. LEAP partners with businesses in several different industries, including retail stores, restaurants, automotive repair, professional offices, and non-profit organizations. LEAP will continue to add business partnerships in order to offer an ever-widening variety of work sites that ensure a comprehensive training program for our participants.
Participants intern at various job sites during the week from 9:00â€“12:15 daily. LEAP staff perform job coaching, instructional support, and provide constructive criticism at the job sites. Staff encourage participants to provide customer service at each job site and guide them on how to effectively do so. In addition, they model proper workplace behaviors and instruct participants on how to execute specific tasks.
It is a goal for LEAP to help participants identify personal strengths as well as areas needing improvement. Staff link these strengths to specific jobs that are appropriate for the participants. With staff assistance, participants create a resume, complete applications, and apply to jobs both online and in person. LEAP teaches proper workplace attire and performs mock interviews with each participant. For each participant, LEAP strives to provide a comprehensive job training program that greatly improves overall chances for obtaining and sustaining employment.
One of the most important elements of LEAP is the implementation of social skills training. Proper social skills are necessary to gain employment, make friends, and develop social relationships. LEAP employs a social skills curriculum that is taught in the classroom as well as on all of the work sites. LEAP utilizes role-play scenarios and techniques to teach situational social skills such as proper body language, greetings, eye contact, shaking hands, using people’s names when speaking to them, saying please and thank you, waiting one’s turn to speak, asking for assistance when needed, giving and receiving constructive criticism, and expressing feelings.
LEAP Living participants share a two, or three bedroom apartment with others in the program. The apartment complex is located close to Eaton Academy and its residents are not limited to LEAP students. The program is designed so that participants feel as integrated into society as possible. Leases for each apartment are executed by parents. Some residents attend LEAP morning sessions so that they can work on real job sites and in the classroom in order to receive proper training. LEAP staff members have experience working with individuals with learning and developmental disabilities; some staff have advanced degrees in counseling. LEAP Life residents receive guidance and instruction in the independent living areas listed below. LEAP staff focus on the following living skills at the students’ apartment on a rotating daily basis.