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Exited

When young people finish high school, they need to figure out what to do next. Growing up can be a daunting experience for everyone, but for people with disabilities, it can feel like arriving at a cliff. 

Exited is a podcast that explores this moment through the experiences of eight young people and their families. It's about growing up and trying to find a place where you belong -- when you've been told your whole life that you're different.

This podcast is from WXXI's Inclusion Desk, a multi-platform reporting effort to inform and transform attitudes and behavior about inclusion. The Inclusion Desk grew from the Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

People like Jonathan Jackson tend to have an entourage. An entourage can consist of professionals and family members who support someone with disabilities in all kinds of ways.

Often, family members do the bulk of caregiving, and as children grow up, questions arise: What will adulthood look like for them? Who will lead their future entourage? 

Veronica Volk/WXXI News

When Akin Johnson was nearing the end of high school, he was clear about what he wanted to do next. He wanted to get a job.

In recent years, there has been a push to get people with disabilities into the general workforce. But despite these initiatives, some students like Akin who aspire to work are running into a problem. They’re being told they’re not independent enough to make it in a work environment.

Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

Sheltered workshops, where many people with disabilities go to work, have been around for decades.

But they’re controversial for a few reasons: They’re usually segregated, and most workers earn less than minimum wage because they’re paid based on how many things they produce.

Sheltered workshops are changing now, though. Some are being phased out, and some are integrating into more traditional businesses — whether people who are working in them like it or not.

People have been asking about the name of this podcast.

Reporter Karen Shakerdge talked to lots of people for this series; listen to how some of them describe what "Exited" means.

Also, stay tuned afterward for a preview of the third episode.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

Going to college can be a key experience in a young person's life, leading to friendships, personal growth, a degree — and, of course, future employment.

The number of college-based programs for students with intellectual disabilities is growing across the country, and they often provide many of those benefits — except for a traditional degree. In the second episode of Exited, meet three young people as they leave college experiences for the real world.

Karen Shakerdge/WXXI News

In the first episode of Exited, explore an early factor in transition – graduation tracks – through the experience of 17-year-old Nate, a student who doesn’t quite fit on any one track.

High school plays a huge part in determining what happens next in a young person's life. And for students like Nate, it can get even more complicated.

Leaving the world of adolescence and entering the adult world — the real world — can be a confusing time for anyone.

But for young people with disabilities, it can feel like arriving at a cliff as they leave behind the cocoon of school and sometimes struggle to find a place where they belong.

Exited, launching Nov. 13, is a podcast that will bring you the stories of eight young people, ranging in age from 17 to 26, as they navigate transitions in various settings – high school, higher education, sheltered workshops, day programs and home life. 

Exited: The team

Oct 30, 2017
Malinda Ruit/WXXI News

Karen Shakerdge, reporter and producer:  Karen Shakerdge covers health for WXXI News. She has spent the past decade asking people questions about their lives, as a documentary film producer, oral historian and now radio reporter.