The transition to adulthood is a challenging and exciting time for youth and their families. Every young adult has their own unique dreams and goals, from traveling the world to finding employment. But how can we best help them reach those goals? How do we support transitioning youth and their families on their journey toward good and full lives? Tune in to the latest episode of Good For All and join us as we explore these key questions.
In the first part of our two-part series on transition planning, we spoke to Meaghen Taylor-Reid about how a Navigator can help youth with diverse abilities plan for the future and meet their own goals and needs. Check out highlights from our conversation with Meaghen below and listen to the episode here:
What is a Navigator and what do they do?
A Navigator helps youth (ages 16-24) with diverse abilities and their families with the transition to adulthood. A Navigator will meet with a young person and their family to discuss their future goals and then help form a plan to reach those goals.
“Thinking about life after high school can be hard and it’s stressful for everyone. Information and knowledge allows for choice.”
Navigators bring together supports that people already have, including identifying people to be part of a planning team. A planning team might include family members, teachers, social workers, counsellors or others. A Navigator can also connect help youth to supports from government and community.
The planning process involves breaking down big dreams into smaller steps. It starts with a goal, like having enough money to live on your own. Then breaks that down into medium-sized steps or milestones, like getting a job. Finally, the plan breaks those steps down even further into action items, like writing a resume.
One thing our host, Monique Nelson, observed was how Navigators like Meaghen could help families to dream bigger:
“As families when we’re seeking services, you’re looking at how the person that you love, maybe when they are needing the most support. It doesn’t always naturally take you to dreaming about things where they’re interdependent in community without paid supports…A Navigator can bring you through to a place that you couldn’t otherwise imagine.”
When it comes to success stories, Meaghen says, “every youth is a highlight,” but one story did jump to mind. She recalled a young person who knew they wanted to work in construction. Since they were involved in transition planning starting at 16, they were supported to take steps toward that dream. They were supported to ask for help from their educational assistant to attend a skills training program in construction. Then, though Work BC’s help, they landed a job with the municipality—all before turning 19!
The gift of early planning
One of the best ways to make the transition to adulthood easier is by starting the planning process early. As Meaghen puts it, planning early gives youth and families more time to tackle each step. It also gives time to connect with friends, other families, or mentors and hear stories about what paths are available.
While making a plan and following through on action items might seem limiting, it can actually give young people more freedom to make choices about their future. When it comes to living a good and full life, Meaghen says, “It’s living the life that you define.”
I think it’s about having adventures. And within those adventures, knowing your choices and being able to make decisions that allow you to continue to grow.
Transitioning to adulthood is a journey. It might be challenging, but it can also be joyful. Access to information and supports, and a supportive team, empowers young people with diverse abilities to achieve the dreams they define for themselves—which is one of the best parts of growing up.
Resources for transitioning to adulthood
You can request a Navigator yourself at 1-855-356-5609. There is no cost and Navigators are available in 140 communities throughout BC. Learn more about the Navigator role and transition planning on the BC Government website: Transition Planning for Youth and Young Adults.
Youth and families can also connect with services, peer supports and other resources through organizations like the Family Support Institute, VELA Microboard Association, and Inclusion BC.
Want to hear a parent’s perspective on transition planning? Listen to part two of this series featuring our interview with parent and teacher Pam Neuman.