21 Apr Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Out helps Sped Students to Post-High School LifeApril 21, 2010
By: Claudette RileySource: The News-Leader
There was advice about how to get a job, find an apartment and get around town.
At a seminar to help special education students make the transition to life after high school, speakers covered those big topics and then got down to the nitty gritty.
They offered specifics about what to wear to an interview, how to pick a roommate and what to do before signing a contract.
Attorney Travis Elliott warned the high school seniors about the fine print involved in renting a place to live or buying a car.
"Anytime you go to do one of those things and you get a contract, sit down and read it," said Elliott, who urged students to take it home, ask questions and show it to a trusted friend.
"You are better off to take a little time and know what you’re getting into."
The third annual Transitions Conference was created for students in Springfield Public Schools’ Business Associated Student Education program. BASE helps high school special education students gain employable skills by, among other things, job shadowing employees.
This year, sessions at the Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Out conference Tuesday at St. John’s Hospital were open to graduating seniors from BASE and others from the five high schools.
"They’re going to be on their own. We do a lot with self-advocacy," said Mona Callison, a coordinator for the BASE program. "Right before graduation, their interest level raises because these are things they need to know in the world."
About 70 Springfield high school students with special needs participate in BASE. Students work on specific goals outlined in their individualized education plan, or IEP.
In addition to the attorney, there were speakers from City Utilities, Southwest Center for Independent Living, Missouri Career Center, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, and local businesses.
Students picked up tips on establishing good credit, filing tax returns, using public transportation and opening a bank account.
"We felt it’s real important to include a session on legal rights. They become responsible," Callison said. "It’s good for them to hear it from the people in the field."
Eddie Williamson, a salesman at the Thompson Sales auto dealership, urged students to re search vehicles on the Internet and ask a lot of questions to select a reliable and affordable vehicle.
"Take someone with you," he said. "Unfortunately, there are people out there who will try to take advantage of you."
Conrad Snelson, a senior at Parkview, participates in BASE. After graduation, he plans to go to college and study film.
Snelson turns 18 this weekend and hopes to soon obtain a driver’s license and then buy a car.
"I learned renting a house isn’t that easy," he said. "This conference has given me some useful and helpful advice on how to face the real world."