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Visiting Embarc Students from Sullivan High


The Douglas Center was excited when several Sullivan High School Seniors visited recently. The student visit was an organized outside experience from Embarc - a program that combines an in-school curriculum with experiential learning.

The day started with a discussion addressing stereotypes, expectations, and misconceptions about people with disabilities. The talk included a few concepts important when meeting individuals with disabilities, such as ask before helping   - don’t assume to know what an individual needs by what you see. They also learned, first hand, that sometimes individuals can be disruptive and loud, but staff are prepared to handle such instances. 

While touring the facility, the students were greeted by several participants who approached and introduced themselves. They demonstrated their work with pride and described how they earn paychecks for a job well done. The students asked questions, listened and engaged in conversation. Some students were surprised at how focused on work the individuals were, several not wanting to stop working to do other things.

The day continued with presenting a few gifts the Sullivan students brought – some of our favorites - beads, Uno Cards, and a game. We really appreciated that!  We set up a table for Jenga and necklace and bracelet making, as well as an area for a corn hole game and Uno. Everyone played. One student noted that “games can have different rules” while playing an atypical version of Jenga led by a participant.



We also wanted to share how we engage with expressive therapies, like music. Earlier, we talked about how playing music and “making sound” is a form of expression, so we had a participant play our piano for the students. Then, one of the students played for the participants - he was so talented! 


“I had a wonderful time visiting The Douglas Center with the Sullivan students. The staff & participants did a fantastic job giving the students an overview of the program and approached their questions honestly and without judgment,” Samantha Brenner, a Postsecondary Coach at Embarc, commented about the experience. “Many of them said this has been their favorite trip with Embarc, and at this point, they have probably been on 30+ experiences outside of their classroom with the program.”

The Embarc program is an interactive initiative available in ten Chicago Public High Schools. It serves to connect in-school curriculum with experiential learning opportunities that support growth and triggers intrinsic motivation in students, creating a more aware and integrated society. Click here to learn more about the Embarc program. 

Thank you to the students and chaperones of Sullivan High School and Embarc for sharing your day with us! 



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