Building Bridges at the Bay

Through a very generous grant, Cypress Bay High School ESE Department has partnered with The HDS Foundation to help high school students with developmental disabilities learn life-long skills needed to function independently outside of high school.


Budgeting and planning for expenses is a complicated task, even for a seasoned individual.  For the Special Needs population, it becomes even more important to start this process of learning about money early on.  This can include anything from understanding the value of each bill, and coin, to being able to make sure that you are receiving the correct change, knowing how and when to tip, (like for a sit-down meal at a restaurant versus a fast food experience).  Additionally, we live in the world of internet stores and purchases, which also can be complex for some.  It’s very easy to click on the “BUY” button on any website, but it’s understanding that “purchasing” means “paying” later that month.  This is a recurring lesson, being addressed in this program.
Every student in the BRIDGES program has been provided funds to open an ATM/checking account.  Bank of America graciously has been providing assistance to the students and parents to ensure that they have access to these services.  The Students will be practicing budgeting, spending, and record keeping, as well as other financial skills throughout the year.  Furthermore, students who earn additional money in a part-time job, or receive monetary gifts (birthday or other), can utilize their account and generalize this new skill in their day to day activities.


Through this grant, participating CBHS students will have various resources in the community available to help them develop different life skills.  The HDS Foundation is working closely with community businesses to further our goals, and provide opportunities to these students.  Having Community Partners and resources available are critical to this population. Not only is having the resource important, but understanding where to find information in a format that can be easily accessed by the community.  This can include everything from local businesses, restaurants, banks, consultants, to educational resources.

The HDS Foundation, in collaboration with Customized Interventions, have already made great strides in engaging community businesses.  From restaurants like Tarantella’s in Weston Town Center, to Bank of America, Marino Campus, First Tee Broward, Weston Hills Country Club, Global Business Brokers, and many more.  Our mission is to engage our community, spread awareness, and disseminate information about resources available to these individuals and their families.

Our Resources Page will provide many direct contacts to these resources.

Independent Functioning

Independent functioning is one of the most critical goals of an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability.  The scope of independent functioning is extremely broad, and can range from things like being safe, getting around in the community and other places like school, being able to learn a job skill and attain employment, fixing a meal, participating in school events and feeling like you are part of it, managing complex situations by knowing where to reach out for help, having a weekend activity and perhaps meeting a friend for lunch and a movie… Many of these tasks may sound typical and easy for some, but are often taken for granted.  Social and Communication Skills are great challenges for teens and young adults with an IDD, but yet one of the most rewarding when it happens successfully.  Buddy-like activities are paving the way in different arenas.  CBHS has one of the most active Best Buddies Chapters in the State.  Cheer Buddies, Basketball Buddies, Drama Buddies, Chorus Buddies…all of these are community based, student-managed programs that have made additional opportunities available to many of the students at the school that they would not otherwise have.  The First Tee Broward is now bringing their Golf Mentorship Program to our community, and with the assistance of The HDS Foundation and Global Business Brokers, they will be launching this program in January at the Weston Hills Country Club.  These mentorship opportunities are just a few that facilitate more independence and better-peer modeling occasions.


As these students get ready to embark into post-secondary education and/or the work force, we want to provide them with tools that will help this transition.   The CBHS Social Skills Class curriculum is geared towards the development of each student, addressing strengths and deficits, and teaching new skills.  Many of the students are still in their teens, and like any other teen, still have a great deal of growth and development to achieve.  With this population, specific development is addressed perhaps earlier, and reinforced continually; this allows them sufficient time for repeated instruction and ultimate success.  The program will build on different strategies, along with IEP Goals that are already defined for each student.


When we are very young, a great deal of our development and growth emerges very fast.  However, it is proven that we can continue to learn and grow during various stages of our lives.  Many students with disabilities learn to be successful with on-going growth strategies, therapies, tutoring and alike.  The Growth will come with education, practical experiences, repeated tasks and maturity.  The Bridges program aims to assist in the development and growth of these young individuals, and through this growth, empower them to be successful in the future.


Building self-confidence, character, and values are fundamental to success.  There are many ways to build these characteristics in a person.  By exposing the students to various activities, groups, and learned skills, we will build on the foundation needed to accomplish this.  Although the recipients of many of these services, the students will also participate by giving back.  The HDS Foundation Teams with Cypress Bay ESE Department to raise awareness and funds each year for the Dan Marino WalkAbout Autism event.  Team Cypress Bay understands that in giving, you receive.  Their efforts have provided the ESE Program at Cypress Bay additional funds from the Dan Marino Foundation to acquire equipment and services otherwise not available to them.  The students become part of the solution and this in itself empowers them to feel like they make a difference in the lives of others.  The Team Cypress Bay Page Can be found at

Social Skills

This program will allow the students ample practice developing communication skills both verbal and non-verbal communication. Many of the activities will help the students engage in group activities such as outings to local businesses, having lunch together, and engaging in High School Activities such as Football Games, Home Coming, Prom, Clubs, etc.

The HDS Foundation is working with local groups to further their outings to include various aspects of their daily lives.  This can include health and exercise, safety, entertainment, transportation, self-awareness, sports and hobbies, and others.

Follow our progress via our BLOG, and follow us also on our Facebook Page.  If you are interested in helping, you can Contact Us and/or help provide financial Support to our various programs.

by Freepik from www.flaticon.comis licensed by CC BY 3.0

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