When it comes to untapped potential, Kelly Elton is not one to mince her words.
For nearly a decade, Kelly worked with adolescents and adults with autism. In her role as Director of Educational Services for Bittersweet, Inc., she often watched students struggle while transitioning from teenagers to adults. And she saw the roadblocks young people with cognitive disorders face when trying to reach their work potential.
“Point blank,” Kelly says directly, “the system is not adequately structured to allow people with autism to sustain employment, much less to advance their careers.”
Kelly’s front-row perspective became the impetus for her involvement in launching Venture Bound. She now works for Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism as the Executive Director of Venture Bound. The program’s core concepts draw on her experience and incorporate sound, evidence-based methods that foster peer support, tolerance, and opportunities. And by allowing students a unique opportunity to participate through their own high schools, Venture Bound eliminates the segregation and emotional hardship common with programs conducted outside the natural school setting.
“Point blank, the system is not adequately structured to allow people with autism to sustain employment, much less to advance their careers.”
“Venture Bound’s tagline, ‘Employing Potential,’ strikes a chord with me,” says Kelly. “I believe everyone should have the opportunity to work to his or her full potential. So it’s my hope that Venture Bound will let each student become a valued contributor to the community.”
Kelly holds a Master’s in Special Education and a graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Bowling Green State University. She has overseen the development and implementation of successful Social Living Clubs in Whitehouse and Lima, Ohio, and she participates in the Toledo Regional Autism Network. With several other volunteer obligations and three children at home, some might wonder where Kelly finds time for Venture Bound.
“I make time for Venture Bound because my job connects me to young people with autism and their families,” explains Kelly. “Through those connections, I’ve seen how individualized support helps people reach their potential.”
And, point blank, Kelly thinks it’s time to put all that potential to work.