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Arc of Anchorage Youth Summer Work Program provides job skills for students with disabilities

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 4:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On a recent weekday morning. the Barnes and Noble in Midtown Anchorage was filled with young people who were busy straightening books, dusting shelves and sorting merchandise. The students are participating in the Arc of Anchorage’s Youth Summer Work Program, a three-week-long job training experience that’s part classroom, part hands-on experience working at local businesses.

The program is open to students ages 14-21 who have an Individualized Education Program that documents a disability, a 504 plan, or who are eligible for services through the State Division of Vocational Rehab. Arc Job Coach Candase Edwards said this year’s program includes 14 students.

“They’re learning how to build their resume, they’re learning interviewing skills, they’re learning work skills, they’re learning how to cooperate and work with others,” Edwards said. “And if they have any other challenges, I’m also there to support them.”

The students are getting paid, the minimum wage, which is $10.34 an hour. For many it’s their first paying job. Edwards said the paycheck is important.

“That is very important that they get paid, because they know that their work, their effort, is being valued. And then that’s the incentive when they go home is that, I have this paycheck, and they are going to make sure they spend it wisely because they know how much work they had to put in to get it.”

Edwards said the program looks to give youth the skills they need to get a job and keep a job.

“I tell the students all the time that they’re getting skills that most adults don’t have when they go to their first jobs, and I make sure that they value the knowledge that they’re learning,” she said.

The Arc Youth Summer Work Program ends on June 22, but will return next summer.

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