Students with special needs gain hands-on work experience

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) — Students from across the Southern Plains gained hands-on work experience Thursday as they had the chance to work with ghost workers.

Amerigroup partners with dozens of Lubbock businesses each year to provide these mentorship opportunities for high school students with special needs. The United We Work event aims to prepare them to enter the job market.

“They are able to enter the job market and they are great children.” said Amerigroup spokeswoman Camelia Alonzo. “They just want to get hands-on experience and see what they can do.”

The students were there to find out about the jobs they could get, to learn from the people they could work with.

For some, like Lubbock High senior Jason Guerrero who wants to become a forklift operator, it’s all about following in the footsteps of family members.

“My dad used to drive one for TNT too, for the fireworks,” Guerrero said. “My uncle, he does the same thing.”

Clayton Thompson of United’s Llano Warehouse says the program provides a much-needed first glimpse of real-world opportunities.

“It’s important for them to come and see what the workforce will be like after they graduate,” Guerrero said.

Alonzo says the shadowing opportunity opens up new possibilities for students.

“What we really want to do is just open doors for them,” Alonzo said. “In this way, they gain work experience.”

Although having a job can be hard work, finding an environment you love can make all the difference.

Savana Walker of Cardinal’s Sports Center says it’s just something she hopes the students will remember after today.

“That’s what we’re excited to show these kids,” Walker said. “How great it is to work here and how we treat all of our employees and workers like family.”

A junior Estacado was thrilled with what he saw.

“It’s all about me,” Jalill said. “Put on clothes, learn how to make trophies, that’s all I wanted to do.”

No matter what field they choose, Alonzo says any company would be lucky to have them.

“They would be amazing employees,” Alonzo said. “Very dedicated, they are ready to enter the labor market.”

More than 100 students from seven area school districts participated in the United We Work event.

said Alonzo American group is always looking for partners to help students prepare for life after high school.

Copyright 2022 KCBD. All rights reserved.

Maria D. Ervin