Happy February BARC family!

Here at BARC, we are committed to giving back to our community and love when we can get the community involved in our efforts! This month, we want to highlight our partnership with North West Education Services (North Ed), an organization dedicated to providing students with positive learning experiences in school and community settings that help them achieve the highest level of independence possible.

North Ed offers students on the spectrum a space to grow by giving them direct access to experiences and tools designed to prepare them for the real world. Formally named TBAISD, North Ed is located in Traverse City and has teamed up with BARC to create hands-on projects that help students build a strong foundation for their future. By partnering with our team, North Ed is able to open up volunteer opportunities to students in 5 counties (Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau, and Benzine) within the intermediate school district’s service area. The Transition Campus and the Life Skills Center are two North Ed initiative programs that provide valuable services to students with disabilities.

The Transition Campus offers a variety of learning opportunities for students starting at age 14. These unique programs prepare students to become independent as they transition into their adult lives. This program helps students apply these skills in a real-life context which they can use to build upon learned experiences in their school and community. These pivotal programs also show students how to be active decision-makers in their lives while advocating for themselves through disability awareness, student-driven goals, and more. Students can also sign up for the North Ed Career Tech Center at the same grounds as the Transition Campus to learn critical life skills that prepare them for the workforce.

The North Ed Life Skills Center serves students with moderate to severe cognitive impairments, severe multiple impairments, emotional impairments, and autism. At the Life Skills Center, every student participates in work skills training opportunities at levels appropriate to the needs and abilities of each individual. Students also regularly participate in community-based instruction opportunities like working with BARC and other non-profits.

BARC provides North Ed students with a space to learn critical life skills they can use in their future careers. Our team provides them with tasks like sorting out batteries, testing holiday lights, and even showing them how to make small repairs to fix faulty bulbs. This program shows the kids how to repurpose items rather than just recycling them. This increases problem-solving abilities and is an excellent skill to bring to adulthood. The lights fixed by the North Ed students are then donated, repackaged, and sold for the holidays later in the year. Some of the lights are donated to Light Up Cedar, an annual event that marks the start of the holiday season in Cedar, MI.

Both parties are thrilled with this collaboration and the impact we can make on North Ed students while also giving back to our shared community. BARC President and General Manager Andy Gale says “I enjoy working with North Ed to bring the community this important program. At our BARC facility, we have current employees that used to be in North Ed programs, so to me, this is extremely encouraging and amazing to see come full-circle.” The BARC team also checked in with North Ed Career Education Assistant Abbey Nielsen to discuss this project collaboration. Nielsen works tirelessly to ensure her students get the best learning opportunities possible. She says that “BARC has been a supportive non-profit organization in the past with North Ed, and we are looking forward to the renewed partnership with them.” Barc is so grateful for our partnership with North Ed and the opportunity to provide helpful programs for their students!

If you’d like to get involved, check out our volunteer opportunities page to sign up for special projects and events throughout the community! Also, check out upcoming events and new blogs to keep up to date on all things BARC!