Posted On: July 29, 2021
What do you want to be when you grow up? During the last two weeks of Dream Big Career Camp, the SDI team and our partners at 13 of St. Louis’ top companies geared up to show 24 teens with disabilities the infinite possibilities.
Hands On Week (July 12-16) was aimed at students who dream of careers in trade and technical fields. From cooking along with Chefs Casey Shiller and Rob Hertel at Saint Louis Community College to touring Mercy’s hospital campuses, students spent the week virtually immersed in a diverse array of company cultures, values, and offerings. Students truly got hands on with an at-home magnet experiment led by Amir Lilienthal, Relay Test Supervisor at Ameren, and dove into the softer side of office perks with the team at Petropolis during a virtual doggy playdate.
The final week of camp is specifically designed for students who haven’t figured out what type of career would suit them best. From brainstorming marketing campaigns in an office to testing the safety of train tracks in the field, during Endless Possibilities Week (July 26-30) campers got to learn from professionals at a mixed group of companies who previewed a wide range of careers. The week began on the creative side with a fun advertising exercise with FleishmanHillard on the 31st anniversary of the ADA and will close with Edward Jones covering practical skills for financial independence.
Our students aren’t the only people who see a brighter future after camp.
“Hosting this camp not only allows students with disabilities an opportunity to explore the vast career options available in healthcare,” explains Dana Brodeur, Manager of Disability Inclusion Services at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. “It also gives Mercy a connection to a hidden pool of talent that is often overlooked.”
On top of adding value to their workforce, companies built stronger organizational connections, too.
“This partnership allowed BJC School Outreach and Youth Development and the BJC Disability Connections group to partner internally for the very first time,” said Jennifer Irvin at BJC Healthcare in St. Louis. “This Camp will be one that I will long remember, I am excited about our continued partnership!”
In addition to working with our partner companies to plan dynamic visits for the campers, Dream Big staff work hard behind the scenes to develop curricula and personalized transition plans for each student — a service that is still in high demand.
“When we get to our College Readiness curriculum that helps students understand what living on their own will be like, it is always eye-opening for students,” says Blair Dammerman, Youth Programs Manager at SDI. “We help prepare students to navigate college and independent life as a young adult with a disability, which is a different approach than most schools take.”
Dream Big Career Camp shows kids with disabilities the full, independent life that is waiting for each of them.
Thanks to our generous sponsors and donors, amazing partner companies, and dedicated Dream Big team, we can cheer for another summer that ignited the ambition of kids with disabilities!
Thank you to our Corporate Sponsors: