In learning skills for a lifetime of working, a training program in a school has special needs students partner with an elder care program.
At South Carolina’s Career Prep Academy in Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five, students are preparing for life after school at the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) center in Orangeburg. PACE is just one of many sites where students with disabilities can prepare to work in real life jobs after they are finished with school.
‘I like helping. I clean up, prepare them for lunch, clean up the bathroom and wipe down tables. It’s really good because it’s preparing me to stay on time at work, talk to people with respect and show people that you’re honest,” said Wilbur Tatum, an 18-year-old Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School student.
The students visit the PACE center four days a week with their job coach. They work directly under Derrick Durant, a recreational therapy director at the PACE center, who has seen a difference in the 10 students since they started.
“I’ve seen a major difference in them. They come in and want to feel like part of something. My thing is just to encourage them as much as possible,” Durant said.