New Opportunities for Students With Disabilities
The number of work opportunities for young adults with disabilities living in Sonoma County is expanding, thanks to a partnership between the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE’s) Special Education Department and Gaddis Nursery. In mid-March, three SCOE Transition Program students began working at the wholesale nursery, located on Piner Road in Santa Rosa.
The SCOE Transition Program is designed to “teach work” to students with special needs, ages 18-22, and to support their growth as young adults. Program activities take place in the community—at work sites and other locations—with the goal of helping students acquire the skills to secure and maintain employment after they leave school. The daily living, academic, and domestic skills that are an integral part of working and the adult world are also emphasized.
Transition students learn to ride public transportation, budget earnings, access the bank and retail locations and more. Students have the opportunity to advance through the program, receiving a variety of work experiences and increased independence. As students progress, they fine-tune their work abilities, determine job preferences, and learn to work with growing expectations and independence. Currently, students can be seen working at a number of sites throughout the community. SCOE serves over 140 Transition students.
One student who recently started working at the nursery, Lupita, says she enjoys learning the new jobs. She added that she felt nervous in the beginning, but is now more confident. Another student, Kyle, says he “definitely enjoys Gaddis and dumping all the bad plants out.” He says he feels “excited and happy to be here.”
Gaddis Nursery is a wholesale nursery employing about 20 year-round workers. Their flowers and other plants can be found in retail locations throughout northern California. “We are honored to welcome Gaddis nursery to our list of wonderful local employers who support our students by giving them these opportunities to learn skills for independence and self-esteem.” said John Laughlin, Assistant Superintendent at the Sonoma County Office of Education.
The company will offer students a variety of different work opportunities.