15-year-old Grayson Kemplin is the Social media assistant at the Human Development Institute. He is also an Autistic self advocate, serves on Kentucky Protection & Advocacy’s Developmental Disability Board, and participates in conferences.
I became involved with the KentuckyWorks Initiative when I attended a post-secondary community conversation they sponsored. I learned that being ready for life after high school might take more planning for me than a typical student. Because of my disability, things are easier when I practice in advance and know what to expect.
My family reviewed the resources provided by KentuckyWorks and learned that having work experience while in high school would lead to greater success in employment later on. When I saw examples of high school students who were working and considering college, I wanted that for myself. But it all seemed so distant and out of reach.
My family started to attend free events at our local college campus. I learned my way around and met many nice people. I applied for a part-time, summer position at the Human Development Institute and was hired as a social media assistant. In working ten hours per week, I learned many things in this first job – filling out employment applications, interviewing for the job, communicating with co-workers, and turning in time sheets. My family and I kept going back to the KentuckyWorks page.
I opened an ABLE account when I got my first paycheck. [ABLE accounts allow people with disabilities to save money without losing benefits.] Things happened a step at a time but I am surprised now how much I have accomplished in the last year. I see now that you can’t just have a plan for the future – you have to practice for the future.