A new concept is motivating and engaging special needs students in a fun way while also training them for jobs following graduation. For the second straight year, metro schools collaborated to hold the ‘Job Olympics.’
More than 200 special needs high school students filled Blue Springs Christian Church on Friday, all of them competing for a gold medal. Each student competed in two of the 30 events, along with a mock job interview to end the afternoon.
"With so many children in our community with special needs, they've got to find a way to be successful and to find a place in our community as adults,” said volunteer judge Sarah Wright.
Wright’s family runs a car detailing business in the Northland, the trade being one of the competitive events. She said, after seeing the kids’ hard work and determination Friday, she would certainly consider hiring someone with special needs.
"There are a lot of jobs out there that kids with special needs, adult with special needs, can do effectively, and we win and they win. So it's a win-win situation,” she said.
The "jobs" ranged from child care to animal care, hanging clothes to shredding documents, and even gardening.
"They have low academics, low motor skills, all our abilities here range, so what we're doing is hopefully preparing them so they can find a job that can suit them,” said Truman High School teacher Kara Schoff.
Each student was graded on appearance, voice quality, interviewing and execution of their job.
School districts that took part included Independence, Fort Osage, Grain Valley, Blue Springs and Raytown.
“The program helps students with disabilities learn, practice and see the importance of having job skills to support employment after high school,” said Charity Cromley, a process coordinator at Truman High School.
Josh Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org