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    A systematic review of mentorship programs to facilitate transition to post-secondary education and employment for youth and young adults with disabilities.

    Disabil Rehabil 2016 07 24;38(14):1329-49. Epub 2015 Oct 24.
    a Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital , Bloorview Research Institute , Toronto , Ontario , Canada and.
    Purpose: Youth with disabilities experience barriers in transitioning to Post-Secondary Education (PSE) and employment. Mentorship programs provide a promising approach to supporting youth through those transitions. This paper aims to identify the effective components of mentorship programs and describe participants' experiences.

    Method: We undertook a systematic review of mentorship interventions for youth and young adults with disabilities. We searched seven electronic databases for peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1980 and 2014. We included articles that examined mentorship interventions focused on PSE or employment outcomes among youth, aged thirty or younger, with physical, developmental, or cognitive disabilities.

    Results: Of the 5068 articles identified, 22 met the inclusion criteria. For seven mentorship interventions, at least one significant improvement was reported in school- or work-related outcomes. Mentorship programs with significant outcomes were often structured, delivered in group-based or mixed formats, and longer in duration (>6 months). Mentors acted as role models, offered advice, and provided mentees with social and emotional support.

    Conclusions: Evidence suggests that mentorship programs may be effective for helping youth with disabilities transition to PSE or employment. More rigorously designed studies are needed to document the impact of mentorship programs on school and vocational outcomes for youth with disabilities. Implications for Rehabilitation Mentorship interventions have the potential to effectively support youth with disabilities as they transition to post-secondary education and employment. Youth should consider participating in formal mentorship interventions, and clinicians and educators should encourage them to do so, to enhance social, educational, and vocational outcomes. When developing interventions, clinicians should consider incorporating the effective components (i.e. duration, content, format) of mentorship interventions identified in this paper. Future mentorship programs should also contain a rigorous evaluation component. Clinicians can help to create (build content, consult on accessibility), connect (youth to program, program to community agencies), and contribute to mentorship interventions.
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