Students with disabilities find career paths with SEAL program
The Summer Earn and Learn program, or SEAL, provides work for students with disabilities. They have responsibilities and earn money in a career they're interested in.
Jonathan Jordan has worked at Crown Point Health for two summers, "I had no social skills whatsoever. But now I'm able to talk freely," he said.
He used to struggle to make eye contact or start a conversation. According to his supervisor, Veronica Knott, the difference is night and day from when he started. She has been a part of SEAL since it started in May 2017. She knew immediately it would impact the students.
"You have to believe in these children. It's just letting them know that it is OK and it's OK to sometimes fail," the HR Director at Crown Point Health said.
If Jordan wasn't in the program, he said he would spend his summers playing XBOX and working out.
"Nobody would actually give me that chance, I would just be like a normal face in high school doing like burger flipping jobs. But now I feel like I can actually have a career and provide for my family," he explained.
According to Donnie Gatlin, the Vocational Rehabilitation Manager at Texas Workforce Solutions, three students have been offered full-time jobs after completing a summer with a local business.
"It's also minimizing the fear of disability. We always fear what we don't understand. I think when employers and customers see that a person with a disability can do the same thing that everybody else is doing, they may just do it a different way, then it adds awareness to the community and the business," Gatlin said.
Jordan is 21 and enrolled at South Plains college. He's studying Physical Therapy and Kinesiology.
"They actually gave me a chance to learn and develop my skills," he said.
According to Gatlin, more than 2,500 students across Texas are finding their career paths with the help of SEAL.