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STEP-Up Program Description

STEP Up (Supported Training and Employment Program) provides adults with disabilities with training and meaningful employment and day support opportunities both on-campus and in the community.  We believe that ALL adults should be involved in a meaningful job and community experiences and that ALL adults are capable of thriving in the workforce when provided with the right supports.

STEP Up has grown over the past year tremendously! We now have eleven participants! As you might know, we are currently an unfunded program. We are at a crossroads where we are looking at licensing and funding options. Your patience, as we navigate new waters to find our niche, is greatly appreciated.

Recently, as a team, we decided it was in our participant’s best interest to include other skills in our program beyond employment. We have identified five pillars that have guided our decision making:

  • Employment,
  • Independent Living,
  • Safety,
  • Self-Advocacy, and
  • Interpersonal Skills

In an effort to teach these important skills, we have begun hosting workshops here on campus and in the community.  

See the list of workshops and descriptions below:

Animal Assisted Therapy – Nic (a friendly golden retriever), and his trainer Kris from Summit Therapy Animal Services visit us twice a month! Kris is focusing on developing interpersonal skills through animal assisted therapy.

Recreation & Leisure Development – This is a fun time where we are working on exposing participants to a variety of recreation / leisure skills.

Dance & Movement Therapy – This class is hosted by Warin of Iriya Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling Services.

Healthy Relationships – This is a workshop focusing on interpersonal skills specifically with family, friend, and romantic relationships. We are following several curriculums that were made for adults with special needs.

Volunteerism – In an effort to both give back to our community and teach employment skills, we have partnered with LCPS Backpack Coalition Program. We go off site and assist them in packing bags of food for children in need. Another way we are giving back and learning employment skills is by packing bagged lunches for the Loudoun County Homeless Shelter.

Functional Academics – This is a workshop focusing on prerequisite academic skills needed to complete functional life skills in the community. For example, exchanging money, reading a menu and selecting choices, etc.

Community Integration– We go out in the community and focus on independent living skills. For example, if we go to the grocery store, we are working on several goals. (focusing on creating a grocery list, following the list, finding items, exchanging money, greeting the cashier, and cooking skills, etc.) We also devote one Wednesday a month to go out and do something fun! This was made possible by everyone’s commitment to volunteering at The Last Ride during Shocktober! We have gone to Chic-Fila-A, Atomic Jump, and Top Golf!

Bowling Club – We are going once a month to Village Lanes! This was made possible by Melissa Heifetz father who graciously is supporting this club in memory of his late brother Freddie Brown, who was an avid bowler.

Book Club – Rust Library is hosting a monthly book club where we read a short story and discuss it as a group.

Police Safety – This class is co-taught by Officer Bennett, whose perspective and input is invaluable! We are following the Be Safe curriculum, a curriculum made for adults with special needs.

Speak Up! – Speak Up! is a self-advocacy and discussion group focused on empowering adults with disabilities to speak for themselves.


Launching Businesses

A goal of STEP Up is to serve as a support for launching ‘microenterprise’ businesses tailored to employee’s interests and skills.

Currently, we have launched:

  • A cleaning business,
  • An art market to sell hand-made products created by STEP-Up members,
    Shop on our Facebook page here: The Art Market at Paxton
  • A landscaping business, and
  • A office work business.

We are in the process of creating a car-wash business as well as a grocery delivery business.

Community Resource for Employing People with Disabilities

STEP-Up also acts as a resource within the greater business community to place and support adults with disabilities in competitive employment.  Within the community, we emphasize the importance of hiring adults with disabilities and have attended several events to the present the community with information on how hiring people with disabilities can improve their business.

Community Partnerships

We are always looking for community partners who may be interested in partnering with our ‘microenterprise’ businesses or who are interested in hiring an adult with a disability. 

Please contact Nyteisha Stith, Supported Training and Employment Program Coordinator with any inquiries:

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STEP Up Wishlist – check out Campus-wide WISHLIST here

Workshop Materials

  • Recreation equipment (soccer ball, basketball, large exercise balls,
  • Leisure activities (pg13 DVD’s, board games (checkers, clue, life, monopoly, blokus, stratigo, connect four, scrabble), puzzles, etc.)
  • Loudoun County Transit bus passes
  • Cooking supplies (pots/pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, utensils, oven mitts, aprons, etc.)
  • Gift cards to grocery stores
  • Craft supplies

Program Supplies

  • Laptops
  • Headphones
  • Lamination Sheets

Employment Needs

  • Cleaning Supplies – Lysol wipes

Art Market Supplies

  • Wreath frames
  • Essential Oils (Peppermint, Citrus, Lavender) Jojoba Oil
  • Vanilla Extract
  • 70% Rubbing Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Baking soda, citric acid, Epsom salt, cornstarch

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