Boot camps help young people explore options

For young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, options for the future are not always clear. ProAct’s Pre-ETS Boot Camp sessions in the south metro and exurbs are providing a needed taste of several options to whet people’s appetite.

Boot camp offers four of the five Pre-Employment Transition Services, explains Hannah Baker, an employment specialist and boot camp instructor with ProAct. “It’s a nice little bundle.”

She developed curriculum for the camps in 2019 with another staff member who has since returned to college. She was then joined by Cindy Besonnie, a ProAct employment specialist, who also teaches.

Seeing students learn about subjects including the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and their rights and responsibilities is something Baker takes pleasure in. “It’s fun teaching them they can work and should work, if they want to.”

Individuals with disabilities have rights in the workplace, and things to learn about working environments. Pre-ETS offers:

  • Job exploration counseling
  • Work-based learning experience
  • Post-secondary education counseling
  • Workplace readiness training
  • Instruction in self-advocacy

As students talk about what they enjoy and possible work avenues, many want to work with animals. That requires experience, said Baker, and often cleaning up animal waste. “Boot camp is really good at opening their eyes to the actual tasks that go on,” she said.

Students visit businesses and hope to resume visiting area colleges sometime soon. Many come to ProAct for job placement and exploration after attending camp. More than 100 students have completed the course since its inception.

Classes moved from a week-long format to once a week for five weeks. They’ve been held in Burnsville and New Prague. People seeking more information can contact Baker at, or call 651-289-3334.