SKILLs is Changing its Name to Cooke Transitions in September!
SKILLs (Skills and Knowledge for Independent Living and Learning) was started in 2009 to provide a community-based transition program for our students after four years at the high school. Prior to 2009, Cooke had no post-18 programs. All our graduating students went into ACCES-VR, AHRC or some other adult agency.
SKILLs concept was to develop a community-based curriculum that would focus on independence, vocational skills, and continued academic/therapeutic growth. Two programs ran parallel (one at the high school and one in the offices of NYU). After a few years in operation, we rented the 4th floor on 254 West 29th Street and started the SKILLs program we have today. We quickly expanded to include the 7th floor.
Today, we are out of space again. Fortunately, 60 MacDougal Street will be empty once the high school moves uptown. After renovations, SKILLs will move into its new location occupying the former high school.
The move signifies a major change. Having our own building for the SKILLs program is a chance to retune and think about some elements of the 18 to 21 program. First, we believe a new name is in order. Moving forward, SKILLs will be called Cooke Transitions. Why the name change? As we grow, we attract outside students and partnerships. The name “Cooke Transitions” gives those potential partners a clear understanding of what we do; we are a transition program. Second, the move gives us the chance to expand coursework for all students. This year, we piloted our first 21+ class for alumni. We hope to develop more opportunities for adult services now that we will have the space. In addition, we hope to expand course options and activities for our current students. More space equals more options.
Cooke Transitions is by far one of the best experiences for students before they enter the world after Cooke; as a result, students are well prepared for life after school. It isn’t just me saying this. We’ve been recognized with a Youth Transition Award from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), and at this point, many agencies are giving our students priority seating. We look forward to the future growth of Cooke Transitions, and the opportunity to provide even more students with exciting programming.