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Travel Training, More Than Coming and Going (Anna Sheehy)

As James gets older this has become more and more a topic of conversation. How will he get around when he’s 15? 18? 25? Living in the city brings up some especially unique issues – will he ride a bike down Broadway? Take taxis everywhere? Walk? Will he actually be able to navigate the convenient (but dangerous) bus and subway system? Yes, dangerous – but not how you might be thinking. I’m not that worried about James being abducted or mugged, but to me NYC transit seems pretty dangerous for someone who is unable to walk in a straight line, forgets to look both ways, and is often so far off into space that calling his name and shaking him is the only way to bring him back to attention (will somebody be there to do that at his train stop?).

I read this article on YAI’s blog (www.yai.org/blog) and felt compelled to share it with you. It gave me some insight into how travel training works as well as some much needed hope that James’s road to independence might be longer than usual, but that it will eventually lead away from Mom and Dad’s gentle (but deadly serious when necessary) guidance. Maybe even on a subway.

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Travel Training, More Than Coming and Going

  • by Anna Sheehy, L.M.S.W. Coordinator, Education and Training Dept.

YAI’s Day Services Independent Travel Training program is much more than teaching individuals how to access public transportation so they can commute from their homes to a day program.

Being a travel trainer is tough. It’s early mornings, long days riding the crowded public transit system, and it can be so tempting to offer quick solutions to the trainee (which would be counterproductive because the skill of independent travel requires confidence and decision making.)

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But that first time your trainee shows up to program on their own, wow. The pride that they have for themselves, the pride you have for them, the pride that their peers and their staff have for them … there is nothing like it. They glow. THAT is worth the early mornings and long commutes.

I believe in the power of independent travel. I think for a long time I took for granted what having the opportunity to ride crowded subways and wait on street corners for buses, allowed me. Being picked up at my door and taken to work every day sounded like a luxury that I might like to have. But if I think about what traveling independently offers me, it is much more important than a little luxury. I can travel to wherever I want to go, whenever I’d like to and I don’t need to depend on others to get places or do things outside of my home. My right and my ability to travel independently allows me to shop at stores outside of my neighborhood, visit people outside of my home and on my own schedule, consider a variety of opportunities for employment, and opens doors to discover and participate in recreational activities.

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Independent travel is a HUGE component of my independence. Being a part of a program that opens some of these doors to the individuals that we serve, is really wonderful. It’s what our work is all about, right? Promoting the highest level of independence for people.

As an employee of the training department, most of my exposure in the field is working with staff, and giving them the tools to best support the individuals with whom they work. I’m excited about my work on the travel training program, and have appreciated the opportunity to be more directly a part of impacting the lives of some of the individuals that we serve. This work has helped me feel closer to the mission of the agency, and for that I am grateful.

For full article and comments go to http://www.yai.org/blog/2012/june/travel-training-much-more.html?utm_source=email&utm_medium=storytitle&utm_campaign=yainewsletter

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For more information about YAI’s travel training program, go to http://www.yai.org/services/day-services/day-services-individual-travel-training-1.html

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