Mikhail Merk-ovitch stands up on the subway, holding a pole for support. He has to get ready to descend from the train a few minutes before it pulls into his stop.

Born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a genetic condition that stunts growth, the 19-year-old moves slowly and is easily thrown off balance.

Merkovitch is one of nine youths in Summer in the City, a program run by Bloorview Kids Rehab that teaches physically disabled clients to use the TTC.

For Thursday’s excursion, the final outing in the program, Merkovitch had to decide on a destination (he chose the Royal Ontario Museum), figure out how to get there and navigate the way, with his life skills coach Natalie Timbrell on hand for his safety and assistance.

He also found the ROM’s ticket prices online and packed himself water and a lunch for the day.

Timbrell and fellow life-skills coach Sarah Keenan started the program last summer. So far, 16 youths have completed it. “The goal is to have youth able to use transit independently,” Timbrell says. “It’s an opportunity to take safe risks.”