Posted on 03/24/2014 at 02:24 PM by Global Reach

BY Jill Kerr

For the 2013-2014 school year, Westwood Community School District made a change to the way they service 18-21 year old transition students. This led to the creation of the Westwood Wings 4+ program.  In the past, the school district had partnered with parents and agencies to create a partnership for working skills. The AEA and school staff collaborated to find a better way to meet all of their needs; living, learning, and working in an environment we already had.  Westwood Wings is housed in the district's PK-12 building and includes a full kitchen, laundry, living room, and learning area. Students have a designated entry and receive their own badges to enter the building.

Students are integrated into the community through local business partnerships with Kum and Go, the public library, Pleasant View Nursing Home in Whiting, and even our school itself.  Our students maintain and manage the concession stand inventory and complete all shopping. They also practice laundry skills by daily washing our lower elementary nap towels, as well as various sports uniforms, and show choir costumes. Through the implementation of a new work skill curriculum, students also get hands-on experience with job skills that transfer to the real world. When students enter the community for working sessions, they are always accompanied by a staff member job coach, ensuring each student's needs are met. We also partner with Vocational Rehabilitation to help students find competitive or supported employment and help them gain skills to fit a future placement.

Living skills focus on independent living. We have a hide-a-bed so students learn how to make a bed and complete household cleaning tasks in our living room. Students create a monthly menu, grocery shop for items, and then take turns cooking meals.  A family-style meal is served Monday through Thursday, while students eat out on Fridays during their community day.

Every Friday our students enter the community. They have visited museums, the YMCA, gone to a movie, explored at the recreation center, visited Iowa School of Beauty, toured a grocery store, and many other activities. Once a month students ride the public transit system in Sioux City. Students find the route to their destination, practice appropriate bus behavior, and learn the schedules. Each week students complete the needed shopping at grocery stores and eat at a restaurant of their choice.

Our classroom has a time clock that they clock in and out of daily to learn how to use and keep track of their hours and pay. Students use materials from the CEC, Project Discovery, News 2 You, and others. We also have learning sessions that focus on banking, money management, filling out forms, reading recipes and newspapers, making lists, and time management.

We are looking to grow our program and are accepting new students. Please contact Jill Kerr at (712) 428-3303 x145 with any questions.

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