By Pete Schulte
For the second consecutive year, the college is partnering with a local organization to help students with developmental disabilities view life through a different lens.
The course, TechConnect, is a two-week summer course facilitated by Olathe-based company Skills to Succeed, and is geared toward providing transition-age individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related needs to learn more about video production.
Students attending the workshop are mentored by the college’s JCAV Video Production employees and work in pairs to shoot and edit video, build social skills and present the finished product at a public event. For Tim, student, it was not the first time attending TechConnect, and the excitement of returning was evident.
Tim, a Skills to Succeed participant, talks about TechConnect:
“I thought it was a great experience to be able to learn more about technology and the advances [that have] become available through the years… being able to learn from the mentors, they’re great, great people.”
According to Cassie Weber, Employment Services Coordinator for Skills to Succeed, finding employment and helping individuals with developmental disabilities and helping them be successful parts of the community is one of key aspects of the organization.
“This has been wonderful for [the students] to build their social skills. A lot of these guys, they have a common interest with technology. Everyone wants to become a video game designer,” Weber smiled. “This is kind of the first step to them realizing what it takes and all the work that goes into it. It’s really great for them to have a project that they do from start to finish… A lot of [students] from last year couldn’t come this year because they have jobs now.”
Cassie Weber discusses TechConnect’s benefits for students:
Finding employment isn’t the only goal, however. The workshop is also geared toward helping students work on problem solving, building social skills and providing students opportunities that may not have previously been available. Working with students who attended TechConnect both years, Weber said the organization has seen great progress with the students’ ability to solve problems and be more open to asking questions without feeling anxiety.
Stephanie Breaker, Executive Director of Skills to Succeed, stressed that the TechConnect event and partnership with the college is a great way to create opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to gain skills in areas they may have not had the opportunity for in high school.
“A lot of studies have shown that individuals with autism are particularly drawn to, and successful in technology related fields. We want people to have exposure to do something they may not have an opportunity to do otherwise,” Breaker said. “The more that we have partnerships in the community where we assist individuals with disabilities and accessing education, programs, services, whatever it may be, I think that our community becomes a more inclusive and accepting place… I think we have to constantly be looking at ways that we can create opportunities for people to succeed outside of the traditional pathway.”
TechConnect’s Video Presentation and Award Ceremony will take place in the Craig Auditorium, GEB 233, at 7 p.m. July 30. For more information about TechConnect and Skills to Succeed, visit www.theskillstosucceed.org.
Download the award ceremony poster here: tc_awards_ceremony_2015__1_