TUSD students with disabilities learn real-world job skills at internships

New program helps students find internships

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - “It was shocking at first, but then exciting,” said Zach Harmon.

Harmon works at Choice Greens. He started as an intern.

“I was thinking I would never get a job because of my disability,” said Harmon.

That is, until he learned he cannot be denied because of his disability. Harmon has autism and ADHD. Thanks to Transition from School to Work (TSW), a state program, he was able to land his internship at Choice Greens. When he was hired, he said he was a little shocked, but excited.

“It helps me a lot because I can meet people,” said Harmon.

Now, the Tucson Unified School District is offering something similar. The TSW Team 7 program is helping put students with disabilities, ages 18-22, in real-world internships. Shane Hobson is now interning with the District’s transportation department.

“I’ve taken inventory the buses,” said Hobson.

He helps make sure the more than 300 buses they have at the bus barn have everything they need—from emergency gear to registrations.

“I’m glad that they have given me this opportunity,” said Hobson.

But not everyone is interested in food or transportation. David Angulo wants to work on cars. TUSD hooked him up with Team 7, where he is helping build science kits for the district, storage shelves for the Team 7 offices and yard maintenance. Every day he comes in for his internship, he is greeted with projects he is working on, and ones he has already done.

“It makes me proud of what I’ve done,” said Angulo.

Yassin Ben Abdallah loves to work with computers. Lucky for him, TUSD is working to track their electricity bills so they can see where to conserve more.

“It’s fun to do bills, especially on the computer,” said Adballah.

Some people may dread putting in numbers on a spread sheet, but not him. Inputting the numbers teaches him valuable computer skills.

“I guess using computers is a good way to learn,” said Adballah, who also learns how to focus at his internship. “I have to make sure I read every single thing.”

The students can build skills and try out careers to see what they may be interested in. Finding that passion can take some trial and error, and this is a way to see if the job fits. For some, like Adballah, he knows he does not want to be a veterinarian. He is not an animal person, but he is still working to figure out a career path.

“I’m not really sure what I want to do when I start growing up. I think I’m probably already growing up enough. I mean I am 19 years old,” said Adballah.

The program at TUSD got started in January. The students learn side-by-side with the professionals in their field.

For more information on the program, contact Dan Perino at Dan.Perino@tusd1.org.

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