A Canyons District program that helps adult special-education students gain the skills necessary to live independently is looking for business partners that would be willing to provide on-site job training for men and women who need just a little extra help to do big things.
Nate Edvalson, a program administrator in Canyons’ Special Education Department, says business of all kinds and sizes can aid the efforts of the Canyons Transition Academy, which holds classes for students 18- to 22-years-old who have aged-out of the school system but still need more vocational and social-skills training.
“I can’t say enough good things about the businesses who give our students a chance. It’s obviously a little more work to hire a person with disabilities,” he says. “The biggest requirement, I think, is understanding and patience. Our students are eager to learn and are excited to take on all kinds of tasks. They need explicit instruction, and it may take a few times to get it right, but in time our students turn out to be valuable employees.”
Take, for example, the task of busing tables. It may seem menial to some employees, he says, but Canyons Transition Academy participants approach the task with enthusiasm because they feel like someone believes in them to do a job that is vital to the restaurant, Edvalson said during a segment on ABC4's "Good Morning Utah." Students also have been provided work opportunities in such industries as car detailing, tire removal and repair, vehicle repair and maintenance, and food preparation and service, he says.
The academy is grateful for partnerships with such organizations as O.C. Tanner, Walmart, Utah Co-Op, Draper Senior Center, and the Larry H. Miller organization. Some restaurants and public libraries have signed up to participate, and some CTA students work in custodial jobs at Canyons District schools and central offices.
“Our students are reliable, excited to work, willing to learn and do any tasks. The teachers and staff at the Canyons Transition Academy also can work with the students during class on skills the students will need to use at their jobs,” he said. “The businesses are enriched because of the variety of working staff they will have. Their commitment to including all parts of the community in their business will be visible to everybody in the community.”