Thumbs Up is a program for L.V. Rogers’ disabled students looking for an opportunity to gain volunteer work experience with local businesses.
As few as two or as many as six students with special needs from 15 to 19 years old are involved with this work experience placement.
A placement is typically a semester long and gains the student a class credit along with learned skills.
LVR education assistant Peggy Jones has been working with the program for five years.
“The local high school places special needs teens in a setting where they can learn work and social skills for meeting the public. They are always accompanied by a job coach who makes sure that the work placement is a success.”
She said their students with special needs have either a mental or physical disability or both. She explained that some are born that way, have had an accident or are cancer recovery patients.
Students have done a variety of jobs including greeter, clean up, stocking shelves, bagging groceries, collecting carts, boxing returns, janitorial, window washing, paper delivery, and pet care.
One student, Shilo Lennox, 18, has been in the program for three years and now has an impressive array of work experience from past placements such as dog walking and pet care with All Play Pet Care, and cleaning tables and greeting customers at Edo Japan restaurant.
“Seniors meeting there for coffee really loved him as he’s so sweet,” said Jones.
Fine motor skills are a challenge for Lennox. Before he began his work experience bundling hangers for two years at clothing retailer Suzanne’s, it took three months of practice at school to be able to double the elastic over the hanger.
Jones said that once he learned that, he now has a paper route, which he essentially can do on his own.
“He needs to roll his papers which he can do now, and he knows his route etc.” Jones accompanies him for safety reasons but “I just say good job, way to go.”
He also goes to a El Taco Restaurant on Baker Street every morning to wipe the tables, and place salt and pepper on tables so it’s ready for opening. To top it off he will start walking dogs at Waggs Kennel soon.
“He always has a smile, he is such a sweet person,” said Jones. “He’s a busy guy and loves working.”
Jones expressed her gratitude and thanks more than 20 local businesses that have participated in this mentor style program which has been running for more than 12 years.
“By opening up your businesses and your hearts, you have changed the lives of many of these students.”
“When they find the right fit for them in the job market, it is amazing to witness the change and the joy that they receive, feelings of independence and self esteem soar.”
Grade 12 also has a work experience program.
If you have a job that you think is suitable for either program, please call LVR at 250-354-5411.