Grant Helps Handicapped Youth Learn Adult Skills

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Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Terry Stevens, CEO of Cenpatico Behavioral Health of Arizona, presents Nanci Stone, vice president of Rim Guidance Center, with a bike donated from a Tucson Walmart April 28 at a Payson community forum. The bike will be given to a client of Rim Guidance who needs a way to get to work.

For many youth that are seriously mentally ill, transitioning into adulthood is a challenge. From finding a job, a home and learning to support themselves on their own, many teens find the transition difficult, especially since a lot of assistance programs end when they become adults.

Recently, Rim Guidance Center, a division of Southwest Behavioral Health Services, received a $107,000 state grant to cover the cost of rent for six transitional youth.

Nanci Stone, Rim Guidance Center vice president, said the program not only gives these young adults a place to live for two years, but offers them counseling, case management and job coaching to survive and flourish for years to come.

A case manager assigned to the home will monitor the teens’ progress and living conditions as well as teach them skills, to live on their own.

The six teens selected for the program, three men and three women, must be clients of Rim Guidance and willingly to commit to employment counseling.

With the skills they learn, Stone believes they can find a job and keep it.

“We want to get rid of the stigma” that they cannot work, she said. “Many of these people want to work. Just because they have a disability does not mean they don’t have skills that can contribute to the community.”

Many times, clients do not know how to apply for a job, what to wear to an interview or how to ace an interview. With Rim Guidance Center’s employment services, clients learn these skills and Stone personally interviews them during a mock interview.

“We want these people to have the tools they need to succeed, rather than set them up for failure,” she said.

Working with Linkages, a liaison between businesses and participating rehabilitation providers, Rim Guidance hopes these young adults find permanent jobs, so after two years they can support themselves.

Currently, there are between 15 and 20 transitional youth, ages 18 to 24, signed up with Rim Guidance.

Getting young adults with severe mental disabilities a job is one mission; another is finding a way to get them to that job. Since Payson does not have a bus system, Rim Guidance is starting a bike donation program where a client is hooked up with a new bike so they can reliably get to work.

So far, a Walmart in Tucson has donated one bike to Cenpatico Behavioral Health/Linkages, who in turn donated it to Payson’s Rim Guidance Center.

Anyone interested in donating a new bike to the program, can contact Stone at (928) 474-3303.

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