Preparing for the ‘real world’

AUSTIN, Minn. — When many students are done with high school they move on to higher education elsewhere. Others transition to the “real world” right away and it can be a big change.

A group in Austin is doing something to make sure the grads that need it are able to find the help and resources they need.

The school year is nearing the end and while some are prepping for college, others are learning what they can do right at home.

“We like it pretty good. It’s good to be out here and we learn more about stuff that can help us when we move on,” said Jordan Newman, a student in the Austin Transition Program.

Newman and his friends with the Austin Transition Program stopped by the high school gym to learn more about what they can do when they are done with high school.

“We want to learn more about the community and how it can help us transition into the real world,” Newman said.

The Mower County Community Transition Interagency Committee (CTIC) held a transition fair for students with disabilities who are getting ready to take on independence and adulthood.

They brought in vendors and services that they will likely be working with.

“Vocational rehabilitation services are here, Mower County Human Services, Cedar Valley Services, which is a work-based facility here in town,” said Erin Stevenson, a Special Education Teacher at Austin High School.

They know waiting until they are done with school is too late to introduce them to the resources available in the community.

“You don’t just get done with high school and blam, you’re all set up. You need to think about and plan for the future and think about what you’re going to do,” said Austin High School Work Based Learning Coordinator Sara Gilberg.

It is important that their parents are aware of what the future holds as well.

“The parents absolutely need to be on track of their students so that they can confer and talk and plan and know what is out there,” Gilberg said.

Newman has already got a pretty good idea of what he will be using.

“Mower County Human Services, Cedar Valley,” Newman said.

Which in the end is the ultimate goal.

“The resources are really crucial to the students, making sure that they get the connections and the resources and the help that they need,” Stevenson said.

Gilberg said because of the importance of getting the parents involved, they chose to hold the event while conferences are taking place.

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