Program designed to help students with special needs transition into adulthood


A program designed to help students with special needs transition from a high school setting is celebrating two years of success by having a little fun.

Some Lord Fairfax Community College students traded their books for a ball Tuesday morning. They played kickball against a group of young adults who are participating in a warren county public school program called elements.

“We like to interact with the students and do fun activities so the students will come out like next week we’ll have an ice cream social here.” Colin Miller Warren County Public School transition coordinator says.

But elements is not all fun and games. The program is designed to help students with special needs transition from a high school setting, to becoming active members of their community. 

“They’re opening bank accounts. We’re teaching them how to register to vote, they’re getting their adult I.D from the DMV we even took them to vote this year in the election, we’re giving them the opportunities to do things that most adults take for granted.” Katie Priest says. 

Allison Smith, element’s job coach says these things can be challenging for a teen transitioning into adulthood, so those living with autism or social- intellectual deficits really benefit from programs like this one. 

“Even for typically functioning students its such a challenge to then decide after you graduate high school at 18 years old that I’m going to make this decision for the rest of my life and this is what my life’s going to be,” Smith says. 

Elements student Cheyenne Kingery says the program has helped her in many ways. 

“Learning how to talk and answer the right questions for job interviews .” Elements student Cheyenne Kingery says. 

And she knows exactly what kind of jobs she wants to interview for.

I’m planning on becoming a special ed teacher for special need kids.” she says.

Along with learning to live life more independently and learning skills for competitive employment. Socialization is another major part of the program’s success. Katie priest says although the program has only been around for two years- she knows the impact of it will last a lifetime. 

“We’re always going to have students that need transition services when they leave Warren County, and before they would stay in the public school systems and they would get some of what they need, but by creating this program they’re getting exactly what they need.” Priest says. 

Elements came about after a statewide initiative was put in place requiring more transitional programs to be made available for those with special needs. 

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