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Special Education Students Gain Work Experience Through Thrift Store

Special Education Students Gain Work Experience Through Thrift Store

Completing internships during high school may be one of the best ways for students to get real-life experience early on before they start college. Some special education students in San Antonio are getting the opportunity to learn what it's like to be in the work force with their own thrift store. 

The 600 special education students transformed "three dusty storage rooms near Memorial High School into a thrift store, offering these students a unique, on-campus work site," said an article on The store is called "Helper's Hand", and opens one week each month, the article said. Students who work at the store earn "campus bucks for meeting behavioral and education goals."

"Teachers, students and community members donate items for the store, while special education students from the Edgewood Transition Center get experience as stockers, clerks and managers for the site as they prepare to enter the workforce after aging out of the district's program," the article said.

Edgewood Transition Center Teacher Roberto De Leon said his department came up with this internship "after struggling to find businesses that would accommodate his kids — some of whom are in wheelchairs or have other disabilities — as they looked for much-needed job experience," the article said.

“We were having a hard time out in the community finding full accommodation for these kids at some businesses,” said De Leon. “They still need to transition into the real world [after high school].”

In order to work at Helper's Hand, all students had to full out a résumé, participate in a job interview, and obtain a Texas ID, the article said. Special Education Director Jose Hinojosa said the store represents, "the only on-campus work site for special needs students in Bexar County, and ensures all ETC students have a chance to develop employment skills."

Ivan Ramón is an ETC student and works at Helper's Hand. He said "he is ready for the transition" after leaving the program after this school year, the article said.

“I tell the other kids, 'Do not be afraid to tell your parents what you want to be in life,'” Ramón said. “Choose what you want to become. You have to focus hard and work really hard and become whatever you want to be.”

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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