'WOW' program puts students to work

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - There’s a program in Western New York that’s giving high school kids with developmental disabilities are a chance to gain workforce training.

Aspire of WNY has a program called “WOW” — World of Work.

The program is a community-based vocational program set up in partnership with 15 area school districts for students with disabilities.

Those students are offered opportunities to intern at different businesses throughout Western New York.

The program relies on employers to host students. It started in 2011.

Amy Pope, who’s a WOW Associate, said it has landed several students jobs over the years.

Parents and even WOW coaches say this program has given the students a reason to keep striving to beat the odds.

“Hopefully some of the students would come back and want to work here as an employee. That’s the goal,” Pope said.

The work experience gives students an opportunity to experience varied workplaces and to build both vocational and soft skills that can be transferable to jobs after high school.

In the process, students build their confidence and independence and have a chance to sample various jobs to determine what fits best for them.

Wegmans is one of the businesses working with Aspire and WOW.

Representatives say the program brings benefits to the company and its employees in addition to students.

 

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