SPRING MILLS, W.Va. (WDVM)– According to the Special Olympics Statistics, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is more than double the general population. Berkeley County School’s Work Exploration Program is determined to beat the odds and give special needs students the opportunities of a lifetime.
“To know that they too can build their self-confidence.” said Transition Coordinator Salli Askin. “Have that self-determination one needs to go out and find a job and also to increase their productivity and become more self-assured and more independent.”
The program is designed to give special education students valuable work experience, which will hopefully set the students up for life after high school. However, the program has suffered major budget cuts and has dropped half of its job specialists.
“The businesses are also suffering because we are only able to go to each business twice a quarter so not only will we might lose support with the businesses but we also might lose support with the businesses as well.” said Work Exploration Job Specialist Emily Sine.
Despite challenges, the program has expanded into 37 more businesses in the Spring Mills community and local students say they couldn’t imagine their lives without the program.
“It helped me whenever I needed help learning how to work, and how to be honest, and truthful,” said Exploration Student James Kyne.
And for students who just need help learning simple everyday necessities, the program has gone far beyond expectations.
“I like helping my mom in the kitchen and I don’t know how to cut peppers so I came here to learn,” said Exploration Student Kinora Fogle.
The Work Exploration Program will be hosting a Transition Fair Friday at Musselman Highschool.