ESD special ed program partners with state parks.

July 12, 2017

Participants in the Ludington State Park program include: front row, left to right, Kami Malzahan, Katie Shilander; back row, Quentin Siemiaszko, Justice Harper, Brandon Kelley, Josh Petersen and Jim Bowen – Job Coach.

ESD special ed program partners with state parks.


LUDINGTON — For the fourth consecutive year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Parks and Recreation Division, Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the West Shore Educational Service District have partnered to provide paid job training experiences for students with disabilities.

Students are working at the Ludington State Park, the Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater, and the Silver Lake State Park in Mears. The project’s long-term goal is to support students with disabilities in obtaining training and employment so they can develop the skills required to maintain employment as adults after leaving the educational system.

Students work in an enclave (group) setting with a job coach instructing on employability skills, specific job skills and task completion. During this eight-week project, students completed the jobs of cleaning fire pits, shoveling sand, picking up trash, painting, raking, removing invasive species and realigning fencing. They also develop the essential skills required for long-term employment of dependability, punctuality, attitude, cooperation, problem solving and teamwork.

“This project is a win-win all the way around. Students win with job skills; the state parks win with getting jobs completed that often never get done due to lack of personnel, and the community benefits from attractive state parks and well-trained dependable employees that contribute to the workforce,” said Teresa Root, West Shore ESD’s transition coordinator.

This year’s project has 16 students employed at $8.50 an hour for eight weeks, June 13 through August 5. The students come from the local schools of Ludington, Mason County Eastern, Mason County Central, Shelby, Pentwater, Hart, and one student from the West Shore ESD Center-Based Program in Hart.

There are 42 state parks throughout Michigan participating in this type of project from the UP to the southernmost corners of the state.

This story is copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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