Empowering the Inclusion of Children of All Abilities
Pathways began as a parent support group founded by Melinda Jennis in Montville Township in January 2002. As a result of her own experiences with her son Jacob who has multiple disabilities Melinda knew much more had to be done to ensure the inclusion and success of her child and others like him. Melinda joined with other parents and her daughter Stephanie (who was 7 years old at the time) and made Pathways a model nonprofit organization committed to helping children of all abilities to reach their fullest potential. For the first five years, Pathways focused on building sports, recreation, and mentor programs that included children ages 3-21 of all abilities. Pathways quickly became known throughout New Jersey for its innovative “children teaching children” model, which provides a formal mentor training program that teaches children how to work with and include children of all abilities.
In May 2008, Pathways expanded their programs beyond sports and recreation and began an employment training program called Project Win Win. This program is designed to combat the overwhelming unemployment rate facing people with disabilities. There was no doubt that without better training, many children with disabilities were destined for unemployment, dependency on their families, and government aid. Project Win Win took off, and in February 2013, Pathways moved the program into a state-of-of the art 2,700 square foot facility. The goal of this program is to help children in middle and high school train to do work that focuses on their strengths and areas they are passionate about. Instead of waiting to train children at the age of 16-18, this program begins training children for employment at the age of 10-12. What makes Pathways unique is the number of children with special needs that we have placed in paid and volunteer positions before they graduate from high school. These children are building impressive resumes that will help them gain access to a world of opportunity like never before. It has become our priority to make Project Win Win the top workforce training program with the best employment placement outcomes in the United States and beyond. See the video below of Melinda Jennis being interviewed on the "Dawn Show" for more on the story behind Pathways.
Melinda Jennis Interviewed on the Dawn Show