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Beacons' Navigator community integration division earns high marks from all

To provide opportunities in north county for greater socialization and community integration to individuals who have exited their school districts by aging out, Beacons launched a 10-week non-traditional extended day pilot to offer up to 30 hours weekly of career readiness and community integration learning choices. The Navigator division was co-found by Board members and parents of adult family members with mild/moderate disabilities to provide individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities postsecondary learning options driven by their interests.

Navigator offers a schedule of a wide variety of activities that individuals can choose from based on their interests and personal schedule, similar to what might be seen at a local Y. Individuals can sign up for 2 days, 3 days or 5 days depending on their preference. Choices include such things as digital creative exploration, cooking, social connections, and other options focused on community integration. Every 10 weeks the schedule of choices changes based upon the input of the participants.

So often after leaving their school districts adults with intellectual disabilities must typically rely upon parent supported and directed activities in order to see their friends or access community events and locations. One of the goals of Navigator was to create opportunities for its adult participants to do things and be with friends without the need for parental supervision.

As one parent remarked, "Navigator has been a Godsend." Her son agreed and shared that he's "having a blast!" Another Navigator participant said one of the best things about Navigator is that "I love my mom and dad, but sometimes I like doing things with my friends on my own."

Beacons recruited Bethany Britt, a special education teacher and "parent favorite" from the San Dieguito Union High School district, to help launch and lead the division as its new director. Bethany has both her teaching and administrator's credential, with years of successfully supporting individuals with disabilities and their families.

To accommodate its growth and the Navigator division, Beacons celebrated its second space expansion in three years with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. A representative from Supervisor Jim Desmond's office also presented Beacons with a certificate of commendation for "Making Dreams a Reality."

The Navigator pilot started on January 18, 2022 and will conclude on March 26. The program will officially launch in April to provide options for 15 participants. Within days of announcing the pilot, a wait list had been formed for when Navigator officially launches in April.



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