Life Skills Class Provides Opportunities for Students with Disabilities


Justice Mulder

Life Skills students learn a variety of real-world, hands-on skills as part of the program that calls room C02 home.

Justice Mulder , Reporter

WOODBURY — Some people may know about the class in room C02, which serves as a resource for children with disabilities, yet it passes unobserved by many students here at Nonnewaug. The program, which is called Life Skills, teaches students the fundamental skills that they will need to know for life after high school.

“The Life Skills program provides students with disabilities an opportunity to explore daily living skills and meaningful academic skills in a comfortable and supportive environment,” says Nick Lucatino, a special education at Nonnewaug. “Students participate in weekly cooking activities and monthly field trips to local community activities and resources such as March Farm or the grocery store.”

Knowing how to cook is a valuable skill to have, but especially for those with disabilities. It gives kids and their families positive reinforcement to be proud of the successes these young men and women achieve. By taking them to community activities, they’re encouraged to have independence as they learn how to be successful in their community.

Speech, occupational, and physical therapy are also available to students in the program. Many of these students struggle to communicate with their instructors, peers, and relatives, so these services help build those skills.

“Communication is every person’s birthright, and it is critical that everyone has a voice or a means to express themselves,” says Nonnewaug speech therapist Natalie Jaramillo. “Communication and understanding envelop our entire life — at school, work, home, and out in the community, [such as] understanding items on a menu, ordering food, asking for help when you can’t find something in a store, [or] giving an opinion.”

Speech therapy is just one of the many services available to students in this program, which also provides real-world work experience.

“Students enrolled in the program participate in a variety of vocational (job) experiences to prepare them for the world of work,” says Lucatino. “Students assist the custodians with dusting and sweeping tasks. This helps them develop the work skills needed to be successful after high school.”

This program is crucial to these children with disabilities because it provides activities that help them learn how to be more independent, as well as how to behave in public. This gives extra security for the students as well as their families.