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Building Realistic and Integrated Daily-living Skills, Gaining Experiences and Employability Skills

Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 operates three community-based, transition-aged classrooms in Cambria County. The BRIDGE programs, located in Ebensburg and Richland, were awarded the John Wilson Memorial Award of Excellence by the PA Council for Exceptional Children in 2015.

The goal of the IU 8 BRIDGE Program is to prepare students to live and work as independently as possible upon graduation. The program emphasizes self-advocacy skills, as well as functional skills (budgeting, meal planning, grocery shopping, lunch preparation, basic housekeeping/ apartment keeping tasks) and activities (restaurant training, travel training, recreation and leisure activities, etc.) that are conducted in the community and at various work sites. There is an emphasis on job training for competitive employment, with other options considered as needed and appropriate.

Community partnerships include Cambria County BHID, Mount Aloysius College, OVR, Saint Francis University, Somerset County DBHS, and the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.

Due to the community location of the classrooms and the amount of time spent learning and working in various community settings, the BRIDGE program may not be appropriate for all students. Considerations include: safety in the community and the ability to work with minimal supervision in the classroom and in the community.

Class size is limited and there are specific guidelines for eligibility for these classrooms. All students must be between the ages of 18 and 21. Additionally, students must be able to:

  • independently dress, feed, complete hygiene routines, and be toilet trained

  • self-medicate (no nurse is available to dispense medication during the school day)

  • participate in the program without additional support staff (beyond the teacher and aides assigned to the program)

Note: One of the classrooms in Ebensburg is designed for students with mobility issues and physical needs.