Tuesday, January 31, 2023 – 10:35am | Author: Van Arnold
Hands-on learning experiences were offered for teens and young adults with disabilities during the inaugural Mississippi Jobs event on the Gulf Coast last November.
Students aged 14-21 participated in a fun and educational event with the main aim of providing an inclusive business learning experience. Organized by the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Disability Institute and the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, the event features local businesses providing hands-on skills experiences for high school students with disabilities.
The ultimate goal of Job Extravaganza is to provide an environment where students have the freedom to explore a variety of careers at their own pace and hopefully find the career options that best suit their preferences, strengths and interests.
A high school special education teacher noted, “This gives our students the opportunity to spend time learning and talking to business owners in a relaxed environment. Businesses spend time with them, which increases their confidence in exploring future careers. In the past, when we When you take them to a job fair, they’re usually afraid to talk to an employer, but not today. It’s like a personal job fair for them.”
Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, Associate Director of the Disability Institute, noted the support the students received throughout the event. . . “Students were provided with a peer mentor to help them participate in at least 10 business experiences. Students then joined their mentor for a networking lunch and concluded with interactive training on dressing for success and job interviews from our staff one day.”
The students were smiling and seemed to gain confidence as they visited each workstation, where they had the opportunity to showcase their skills and learn new ones. Hands-on business experience exposes students to new skills, potential employment and possible career options.
For example, the Rosalie Station Car Wash & Detail Center provides opportunities for students to wash their hands and wax their trucks. Alliston’s Screen Printing, Embroidery & Awards provides students with all the materials to create actual trophies and medals. Wild Acres offers hands-on time with the reptiles and offers classes in making special foods.
Other businesses participating in the Job Extravaganza include Triton Systems, Salvation Army Family Store, Sunshine Nutrition, Disability Research Institute, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Libraries, Fantasy Games, the Coffee Box, Southern Bagel Company and 34th Street Wholistic Gardens.
The Job Extravaganza event is co-led by Beth Robertson, IDS Transition Coordinator, and Michett Ramos, Family Health Support Specialist, who oversee all events.
Beth Robertson explained about the event: “Because of the variety of work industries represented and the hands-on assignments carefully selected by each business, students were able to engage in personal and meaningful ways that had lasting impact on their lives. impact. Students are still talking about the event and teachers are leading class discussions about what all students have learned and the careers they dream of pursuing. We hope to offer more events like this in the future so we can see more students with disabilities have Opportunities to explore potential career paths.”
Job Extravaganza is offered by the University of Southern Mississippi Disability Institute, the University of Mississippi Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and is funded by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services.
For more than 40 years, IDS has maintained its mission to positively impact the lives of Mississippi citizens with developmental disabilities and other disabilities and their families across the lifespan, working to increase their independence, productivity, and community inclusion. IDS focuses its work on three focus areas: community living, education and capacity building, and family engagement.
To learn more about IDS or the Job Extravaganza, visit www.usm.edu/idscall 601.266.5163 or email idsFREEMississippi.