Youth in Transition

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Youth in Transition2023-05-18T17:15:02+00:00

Youth in Transition

dRC provides services and programs to empower youth with disabilities to obtain and maintain their self-determination and independence. Through services like peer support, advocacy, and peer mentoring, as well as programs like Live Out Loud (LOL) Academy, and Independent Living Skills Trainings, dRC equips youth to make positive choices. We educate youth by helping them to gain knowledge of their civil rights, and we provide networking opportunities with collaborating community entities to assist them in achieving their personal and professional goals.

Disabled Latino teenager with mother laughing.

Peer Support

dRC offers peer support services to youth with disabilities via phone, email, web blog, and meetings, both in-person and virtual. As a Center of Independent Living (CIL) ran by and for people with disabilities, we not only understand the physical and attitudinal barriers society places on individuals with disabilities, we experience them ourselves both personally and professionally. dRC provides peer support individually and in a group setting; encouraging participants to select topics, activities, speakers, etc. that will be of interest to the group.

For more information contact Mike Scripa at: (865) 637-3666 or email:

Peer Mentoring Group

All people, no matter if you are a person with a disability or a person without a disability, need peer support from friends, family, coworkers, and even the community. No one wants to travel their journey alone. dRC provides Peer Support to individual clients and their families. Seventy percent of dRC staff have a disability. Clients can receive one-on-one peer support just by calling our office during the work day. Our staff is happy to offer a listening ear, advice if requested, and share their own story of how they live day-to-day with their type of disability.

dRC also provides Peer Support in a group setting through our Chatty Café, which meets every third Thursday of the month, at our office location, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. Chatty Café covers topics such as dealing with depression, crime prevention, how to advocate for yourself when experiencing discrimination, dealing with difficult people, renewing body, mind and soul, avoiding self-pity, attitudinal and physical barriers, and many other issues people with disabilities face every day. Light refreshments are served in this comfortable, easy to share environment with facilitators who themselves have a disability.

If you would like to join us for Chatty Café, please call Mary Lu Shipstad at (865) 637-3666 or email to reserve your place at the table.

Live Out Loud (LOL) Academy

LOL Academy is a free program for transition aged youth (16-24 years old) who will soon be graduating or have previously graduated from high school and are transitioning into college and/or the work place. We train youth on topics such as the Independent Living Philosophy, the disability civil rights movement, positive communication, making positive choices, goal setting, transferable job skills, interviewing skills, dressing for success, motivation, advocacy, anger and stress management, resume and cover letter writing, networking, how to choose the right career, transportation skills, recreational opportunities, emergency preparedness, budgeting, and time management, etc. Participants will also be provided with a list of community resources that will assist them to live, work, and play as independently as possible in their community. LOL Academy participants will tour and learn about the services offered by the Knoxville Transit Center, the Knoxville Career Center, the City/County Building, the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, local recreational centers, etc. They will hear speakers from the Knoxville Office for Disability Issues, Knox Area Transit, Knoxville Police and Fire Departments, Knoxville Parks and Rec, etc. Graduates from LOL Academy are more prepared and more confident as they navigate the transition process out of high school and onto whatever their future holds.

For more information about LOL Academy call Mike Scripa at (865) 637-3666 or email:

Youth Advocacy & Legislative Committee

Through dRC’s partnership with the University of TN’s Imagine TN Project, we have developed an Advocacy & Legislative Committee consisting of people with disabilities ages 18-29 promoting and supporting disability civil rights on a local, state, and national level. However, one does not have to be a UT student to become a member of our Advocacy & Legislative Committee. This committee is an active, hands-on advocacy committee addressing and advocating for equal access and inclusion regarding education, employment, housing, transportation, healthcare, voting, recreation, etc., for all people with all types of disabilities. The committee collaborates with the Knoxville Mayor’s Council on Disability Issues (CODI), TN Disability Coalition, Disability Rights TN, etc., to learn and advocate for the most prevalent disability issues and legislation. Members of this committee will contrive letters/emails and meet with the proper legislators regarding specific disability issues, attend meetings of local and state councils/committees that advise and promote equal access and inclusion, and mentor youth with disabilities on the advocacy process.

For more information contact Mike Scripa at (865) 637-3666 or email:

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