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Kan. special needs students compete in unique Job Olympics

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BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. -- Dozens of Kansas special needs students are competing in a unique Job Olympics.

Special education students say the skills they're showcasing show they are ready for future careers.

Not many people get excited about doing tasks like folding pizza boxes, sorting laundry or bagging groceries.

But for these kids, there's a lot of pride in showing prospective employers that they can be independent and dedicated to work.

Special education students from across Wyandotte County and the Kansas State School for the Blind have been developing job skills in their classrooms for weeks now, to prepare for college or careers after they graduate. Teachers say all they need is for someone to give them a chance. This special Job Olympics competition allows the world to see just what special needs students are capable of accomplishing.

The students also are getting additional practice on how to interview for a job, fill out a job application and create and write a Word document on a computer.

"A lot of our students may not be able to do a complete job as they are described," said Kathryn Holmes, one of the special education teachers. "For instance if they are bussing tables, they may not be able to bus at the same level that other bussers may do in a job. But they can do portions of that job, they can do portions of it really well. If employers look for that niche and want to fill it, our students are really good. "

The competition helps build pride and self confidence among teens who need to believe that they can make it on their own.

The event also shows employers that they should not discount these young people just because they're different.

Students also demonstrate that they can dress and act professionally and are eager for entry level jobs that others shun.

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2 comments

  • Elizabeth McBurney

    Thank you, Fox 4, for doing this story! Mr. Pepitone’s interest showed in the way he interviewed some of the students, and your cameraman was absolutely awesome, the way he interacted with these young folks. Once again your station shows it is a class act… KUDOS!

  • DC

    Have a relative with Down Syndrome, she works Monday through Friday and cannot wait to go to work every day. She does a fantastic job and is a great employee! Just give them a chance.