Hopeful Journeys staff help students acquire the necessary skills to live and work more independently. Student-specific goals are created based on assessments, such as the Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) and the Reading Free Vocational Interest Inventory. Goals are also developed through collaboration with our wonderful families and school systems. Our vocational training offers students a chance to discover new interests, increase communication and social skills, develop safety and community awareness, as well as learn self-help and vocational skills. Hopeful Journeys has a variety of on-site vocational opportunities available to students of working age including retail, clerical, custodial, food service, and laundering services. Hopeful Journeys also has larger on site programs, including working in the school store and recycling. In the school store, students learn to use a cash register, interact with customers, take inventory, restock items, price items, bag items, and clean the store. Our school-wide recycling program, which includes both an on-site and off-site component and involves students navigating around the school to collect the paper and later take these materials to the local recycling facility.
Hopeful Journeys has partnered with a variety of local businesses to provide students the opportunity to generalize vocational skills to off-site locations within the community. Students work at a variety of local businesses including Anthony’s Pizza, Golden Living Nursing Home, Second Glance Thrift Shop, The Hive Art Studio, and Cape Ann Animal Aide. Students are able to attend these sites within the community and generalize the vocational skills they have developed at school within a meaningful work environment. These work experiences are essential to providing students the opportunity to gain work experience that could help them to achieve employment in their post-secondary lives.
At Hopeful Journeys, students work hands on in our vocational kitchen. The kitchen is complete with two full-range stove tops, two refrigerators, an oven, microwaves, toasters, blenders, and mixers. In addition to the appliances, the kitchen is home to all the necessary cooking utensils to provide students with everything needed to make everything from toast to cupcakes. Students learn skills such as measurement, determining hot versus cold foods, identifying expired food, identifying locations within the kitchen, appliance safety, cutlery usage, and basic knowledge of food handling. Students may also work on higher level skills including meal planning, food prep, and identifying healthy foods. Students also participate in cooking groups to generalize skills and work together to practice skills related to following a recipe, measuring ingredients, cutting and safely operating appliances. Cooking groups are also a great opportunity for students to generalize social skills and work together as a team to prepare a meal. The vocational kitchen is an integral learning environment to ensure our students have successful futures.