I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the power of seeing special needs students who were trained at doing a job and felts a sense of empowerment with their purpose. It was a simple program that is funded by donations from their customers or clients. The group of Autistic students get “hired” to go to homes and businesses and steam clean carpets.
This local program is in danger of being phased out. A new person took over and therefore did not have all of the contacts that the previous person had. However, in the last couple of weeks of this summer’s program things picked up. The students get booked by an organizer and they go to local businesses or homes at an appointed time and they steam clean. They were excited when they arrived and they were diligent in doing their jobs. There was a team of 2-3 students and a couple of adult supervisors. This worked out wonderfully. Was the carpet cleaning equal to a professional cleaning? No, however they didn’t charge a professional price either. I felt that the service they performed was worthy of being a paid job. They used regular upright steam cleaners that anyone could buy and cleaning solution that you could buy in a box store; but in general the results were clean and fresh.
It was awesome to see pride on their faces when thanked for performing the carpet cleaning service. They had a passion for doing their “job” right. They appeared to feel happy to have a purpose. In fact, the teacher told me that she was concerned about how they would feel for the rest of the summer when they didn’t have a job to get up for; she said there were some students who would get filled with anxiety when there were no “jobs”.
I would love to see more programs developed for special needs individuals…both those who are in school and those who are older. Everyone has abilities, skills and knowledge…why not harness the best opportunities that will enrich the lives of a special needs person? Do you know of any programs that exist in cities or rural areas that build up the life of a person who was born with challenges? Tell us about it please.