two young men work in a lush green garden

Experiences to Build Skills for the Future!

As a teenager with a disability, the goal of post-high school employment can seem huge. The St. Louis Arc provides a summer project, Neighborhood Experiences, which supports teens in identifying their post-graduation goals and in building the skills needed to achieve them.   

What Makes This Different Than Summer Camp?

Neighborhood Experiences is an 8-week, youth employment training project. This unique summer project focuses on building career interest while exploring and connecting with the community. Individuals are provided with the tools needed for career awareness, exploration, and discovery through volunteer and work sites in their neighborhoods. During the summer, teens will gain employment training skills, form new relationships, and explore opportunities in their community. Building upon individuals’ employment and social-related skills are essential for individuals to achieve their goals in this project and succeed in a work setting.​ 

How Does the Project Work?A young woman smiles for the camera while she sits at a computer doing research

Teens start the project by researching volunteer sites where they are interested in spending their summer. With staff support, teens secure the sites through phone calls, online research, and tours. Beginning the second week of the project, teens volunteer in the morning and afternoon, with a break for lunch in between sites. On Fridays, all the teens in the project either volunteer for a group project or engage in an educational tour and community activities.  

At the end of Neighborhood Experiences, teens will have worked on three major goals: 

  • Hard Skills Goal: These skills are abilities that let you tackle job-specific duties and responsibilities. Examples include job responsibilities at volunteer sites, task initiation, completion of tasks from start to finish, staying on task 30 minutes before a break. 
  • Soft Skills Goal: These skills relate to how you work and how you interact with other people. Popular soft skills include communication, teamwork, time-management, initiation of conversation, creating peer relationships, and coping strategies. 
  • Employment Resources-related goal: Exploring employment areas/jobs, practice skills or tasks related to gaining employment such as resume formation, job applications, and interview questions.

Additionally, staff work with teens to create a resume and picture portfolio of their volunteer experiences from summer. Many individuals attend Neighborhood Experiences for multiple years and build upon their resume from the previous summer.​ 

Who is Eligible?

The Neighborhood Experiences project is for individuals, ages 13 to 20, who strongly desire to obtain employment following high school. Participants must have a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability, reside in St. Louis County or St. Louis City, and be returning to high school in the fall to participate in the project. 

How to Get Started

Registration for Neighborhood Experiences begins February 10, and spaces are limited. Registration and payment can be completed online beginning on February 10, via our secure online payment link. For more information or questions, please contact Clinton Hall at 314-817-2293.