Mason LIFE Internship Program
In June (2012), NMNH expanded internship opportunities for people with disabilities by welcoming two student interns from the Mason LIFE Program, a post-secondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at George Mason University in Virginia. The interns and their job coaches, who themselves are studying special education at GWU, were placed in the NMNH Office of Education and Outreach where interns learned critical job skils by preparing materials for activities with visitors, organizing and maintaining office and educational supplies, and providing general office support. This fall, we welcomed another intern from the LIFE program, Ryan Gutkowski, and his job coach Imani Asha Walcott (Pictured).
With assistance from Imani, Ryan reports to the museum every Wednesday. He has developed the skills to pick up and deliver our mail, gather all the recycling materials and drop them off at the appropriate bins, shred documents, re-stock the front desks of the museum with appropriate maps, brochures, and flyers, help us prepare for outreach events like Smithsonian Teachers’ Night, and assist with preparing/assembling arts and crafts materials for use with visitors. Imani’s role is to help ensure that Ryan completes his tasks as assigned and to help facilitate his movements through the museum, but not to do the work for him.
Ryan has learned a lot during his time at NMNH and even extended his internship for another semester challenging him with new tasks and skills.