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Summer Earn and Learn Program prepares students with disabilities for independent work

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Workforce Solutions South Plains is partnering with the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Program to prepare students living with disabilities for the workforce.

The Summer Earn and Learn Program provides five weeks of work experience tailored to their abilities while helping them learn new skills. Students with disabilities from ages 14 to 22 are eligible.

It’s Briley Wells fourth year with the Summer Earn and Learn program. He is a history major at Lubbock Christian University. Between semesters, he does entry-level archeology and anthropology work for the museum.

“What I’m looking for is cultural and biological artifacts that give us signs of human civilization and ancient organisms. So this is really just aiding the Texas Tech archaeologists in the work they do. The samples that we collect here go to the museum to be housed in their collection, and put in a database,” Wells said.

Wells is one of 66 students in the area working with help from the five-week paid program. Employers throughout the county offer work experience based on the student’s interests and abilities.

“It’s kind of hard for me to get a lot of the same jobs that college students might get, like, I couldn’t really work in a restaurant area, because my walkers are big and wide and stuff. This one is really accessible to me,” Wells said.

Although the five-week work session is not exactly related to his field, his confidence has grown.

“It’s really given me the experience of what it’s like to work. I think that’s a valuable thing. Because it’s kind of jarring to be like a kid in high school or college, who just like has fun or goes to school. It’s definitely a different experience than those things. So I think it’s done a really good job of integrating me into adulthood,” Wells said.

This program only provides work during the summer months, and you must have a counselor with the TWC Vocational Rehabilitation, which also provides funds for the program.

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