CreateAbility Course Prepares Day Program Participants for Jobs

Monarch direct care staff train a person supported on the CreateAbility software.

Columbus Industries day program staff Betty Tisdale (left) and Daneshia Edge (center) show person supported Windy Herring how to use the CreateAbility app on her cell phone.

Attendees at Monarch day programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the opportunity to research jobs they might be interested in thanks to CreateAbility, an educational software.

Many Monarch day program participants currently work at jobs within their communities as well as volunteer, however this educational tool will help people with I/DD identify additional areas of interest or explore different job opportunities they had not considered.

Monarch’s Director of Day Programs Bob Huber says the CreateAbility resource opens “a world of possibilities” for people with I/DD to learn more about what it is like to work at jobs that can include restaurant and food service, hospitality, grocery retail and landscaping.

Monarch purchased the CreateAbility software for $2,500 made possible by an internal grant program funded by generous community donors. Annually, Monarch staff submit requests for funding of a project that they believe will benefit people served. A Monarch committee reviews submissions and awards the grants.

The main objective of the CreateAbility software is to gauge expectations, explore career paths and examine the skill set required within the person supported areas of interest.

Bob explains that interested day program participants are shown, with staff support, how to use the CreateAbility software whether on a laptop or desktop computer, or cell phone. The individuals begin with completing an online assessment to determine what kinds of areas they would like to work. The online educational resource includes short videos tailored to explain how each job looks and the tasks that might be included.

Monarch persons supported are shown in caps and gowns holding their certificates for completing the CreateAbility online education.

River City Achievement Center day program CreateAbility graduates include: (top row) Shamyra Randall, Kristopher Catteau; (bottom row) Kristoff Willis, Kimberly Wynn.

Community Engagement Team Lead Evita Dinkins of Monarch’s River City Achievement Center, a Monarch day program in Elizabeth City, explains that the final analysis reviews both the participant’s and support staff’s assessments. The software outlines employment suggestions that the person served can research further with support from staff, as well as skills in place and additional training for needs such as strengthening short-term memory or following step-by-step instructions.

“CreateAbility opens up opportunities that they may not have even thought about,” notes Nancy Kaierle, Vice President of Operations, Long-term Services and Supports.

Not only is the CreateAbility software an innovative way to prepare individuals served for a future job, but Evita shares that day program staff have seen improvements in self-esteem within individuals who have completed the course through calling out areas in which they excel.

The software is also beneficial in identifying areas in which one-on-one supports can assist a person when they do have a job. “It’s giving them the knowledge they need about the job, and what it takes for them to be successful on the job. It’s good that it is preparing them before they actually get to the job,” Evita says.

Evita says the best part is seeing the pride exhibited in day program participants when they earn their CreateAbility certificate and realize they are better prepared to look for a job, one of the next steps. Other next steps for Monarch staff includes identifying guest speakers to visit to discuss employment options and updating the goals of day program participants who complete CreateAbility.

Nancy explains that incorporating CreateAbility into the day program structure places Monarch ahead of the state’s plans that are to be initiated in 2026. North Carolina is preparing to move from workshop-based programs to individuals who have a desire to be employed.

Posted on: Thursday September 7, 2023