MyCLIMB is the acronym for a person-centered planning process used by the Aggies Elevated post-secondary education program for young adults with intellectual disabilities at Utah State University.
My Career Ladder for Independence, Maturity and Balance is a framework to identify students’ strengths, challenges and individualized supports while emphasizing personal responsibility in five key areas: Self-determination, academic enrichment, career development and employment, campus and community engagement, and independent living.
Recently, students created PowerPoint presentations for their families and other invited stakeholders. Each student led his or her own meeting, and described dreams for the future as well as detailed plans to get there.
“It was exciting to see how each of the students brought their personality and individuality into the MyCLIMB meetings,” said Aggies Elevated program director Sarah Bodily. “Each of them presented a little differently, but each of them shared the information that most important to them. They’ve really come so far from the first time we met them at SOAR in June of last year.”
One student was nervous before her meeting.
“But I walked in there and said to myself that this is my family,” said Taylor. “They want to help me with my goals in life.”
Several students said having to think about their futures was a valuable experience.
“I got to talk about goals and what I want to do with my life,” said Sarah, another student. “I really had no idea until I figured out what I wanted to do. It was a confidence booster. It’s really nice to have a couple of years planned out. “
Putting the students in charge of their own meetings was a confidence booster for some.
“Doing the presentation on my own helped me nail down what my strengths and weaknesses are in each of the areas,” said Jenna. “And it helped my public speaking skills get stronger, and helped me get a little more comfortable in front of an audience. My parents were proud of me, and for them to be proud of me, anything’s worth it!”
‘What was cool is that I was in charge,” said student Troy. “The presentation took a long time to make, but it felt pretty good. My parents gave me good suggestions.”
Most meetings included the student, his or her parents and other family members, and staff members including program director Sarah Bodily, rehabilitation counseling intern Sue Reeves, post-secondary education specialist Jeff Sheen and the student’s mentor.
“It was hard for me not to have a big smile on my face while listening to Jenna,” said mentor Shelby Foster. “She worked so hard to prepare her presentation, she rehearsed and practiced several times. I was proud to sit there and listen to her share what she wanted to do with her life.”
“I loved how Natalie was able to express her own goals for herself and how she showed her stuff!” said mentor Jessica Tremea. “She showed what she has learned, identified areas of work, and told us how she’s going to get there. She really has dreams for her life and helped us to see how she is planning on getting there. It was cool!”
“Not only did it help Troy to reflect on what he needed, but I got to hear him reflect on what he needs,” said mentor Jordan Pease. “The opportunity to discuss this as a team that was interested in Troy’s success was a breeding ground for great ideas, in my opinion.”
Aggies Elevated at Utah State University believes that all individuals, regardless of ability, have the right to meaningful employment, lifelong learning, self-determination and full community inclusion. Utilizing the MyCLIMB (My Career Ladder to Independence, Maturity & Balance) person-centered planning model, Aggies Elevated students, along with invited family members and/or other stakeholders, will chart their own paths toward independence within an individualized framework of supports that identifies challenges, builds on individual strengths and encourages personal responsibility.