Since its inception, the General Education and Vocational Training Program (GEVTP) has supported over 100 young people with disabilities through educational scholarships and opportunities for job training. Scholarships (for secondary through university-level schooling and for English language study) cover tuition, classroom materials, a living stipend and transportation for students who would otherwise not have the means, whether financially or physically, to continue their education. In addition, Transitions offers vocational training in its Wheelchair Workshop and Print Shop. Through these programs, apprentices learn the technical aspects of wheelchair fabrication, design, refurbishment and client-fitting; gain skills in small business management; and have the opportunity to develop their computer literacy, learning graphic design and offset printing. The program lasts for roughly 1.5 years (length of training can vary depending on participant health state, level of disability and educational background). In 2011, the GEVTP program coordinators will be working to provide more formal support with resume building and will develop more strategic partnerships with businesses and government entities within Guatemala so that graduates have enhanced opportunities for securing employment after their graduation.
In addition, the GEVTP provides capacity building opportunities for Transitions’ management team (the majority of whom are living with a disability), contributing to their personal and professional development as leaders in the disability community.
Ultimately, the GEVTP supports individuals like Juan Buch, a longtime Transitions member and current GEVTP participant. Juan began his relationship with Transitions after his diagnosis with polio at the age of 9. Transitions has made his educational attainment possible and Juan has quickly risen to the ranks of leader. Now as a young man, Juan studies English four nights per week after his apprenticeship in the Wheelchair Workshop. He hopes to one day receive a college education and play wheelchair basketball in the United States and understands the role of English in his short and longterm plans.