Learn and Earn: Supporting Teens

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Some video includes a young woman in a wheelchair at a soccer game, a young man working on electronics, another young man in a wheelchair at an aircraft manufacturer, and other people in different scenes from school and work. "Learn and Earn: Supporting Teens". A young woman is holding a clear plastic mold.
[Veronika] So which one should we out the loofah in? Do you want to use all of them?
[Lacey] Yeah.
[Narrator] Veronika and Lacey are business partners. They're making soap.
[Veronika] I've always really liked herbs, and I've always really wanted to make my own soap and sell it at the Fremont Market.
[Lacey] I learned how to run a business. I also learned how to make soaps.
[Narrator] The business began as Veronika's senior project in high School. She had big ideas, and she turned to her mom, Debbie, for help.
[Debbie] When Veronika and I started talking about it, it was just so exciting. And at that point, I just said to her, go with it, and whatever money you need, just, I'll take care of it.
[Narrator] It wasn't a large amount; just $500 to get started. But there were other ways of helping that were just as important as the money.
[Veronika] She's self-employed herself, so she was really able to help me and Lacey. She gave me ideas how to find resources, and she was really helpful and very very supportive.
[Narrator] Debbie felt that it was essential not to overwhelm her daughter with too much advice.
[Debbie] I tried just to discuss with her her ideas.
[Debbie] I think hat, to keep track, that's a smart way to go.
[Debbie] she wanted to cover so many areas, and I knew it probably wasn't possible to cover as much as she wanted in a short period of time, but I just listened, and then as she started to tackle parts of the project, she discovered on her own that by the time she got done with adapting equipment so Lacey could be a true partner. She came to the conclusion that this would be a business that would evolve over time.
[Narrator] Veronika and Lacey learned about each other's strengths ...and their own.
[Veronika] Does that smell good?
[Lacey] Yeah.
[Veronika] I already knew a lot of the recipes, and Lacey would say, you know, well, I don't really like this recipe, it doesn't smell right; or, you know, I really like this one, I think we should sell this one; and then we would get together and figure out, okay, now how are we going to make them?
[Lacey] I showed her e-mail. And I showed her how to make business cards.
[Narrator] They're both having fun, learning business skills, and making some money. It's also a step on their career paths.
[Veronika] My dream is to become an occupational therapist, and I'm really interested in homeopathic, like natural healing, so I plan to use this business and my occupational skills, when I'm older, to combine, you know, my knowledge as a physical therapist in order to adapt the production of soap.
[Narrator] For every high school student, it's time to start planning the future. Parents, educators, and mentors can support this process. And looking toward a career can motivate students to succeed in school.
[Pam] The more that they can think ahead about what goals they have for themselves and what direction they want to go, the more relevant school can be for them.
[Narrator] Once a teenager begins to focus on particular interests, it's good to encourage work-based learning opportunities.
[Lyla] Work-based learning is important to students in high school, especially students with learning disabilities or any type of disability, because it gives them an edge over the competition. They've gone into a workplace, they've been there, they start learning workplace etiquette, they also learn on-the-job skills, which are essential. Those are things that you can't be taught in school or learn in college. You get that experience behind you, you're able to start building a resume, and it helps those students be more marketable on the job market.
[Narrator] Many schools have career centers to help students find internships, part-time jobs, or other opportunities like job shadowing or informational interviews. If there's no career center, the guidance or counseling office can help in this career exploration.
[Stephen] The career counselors are an integral link from academics to the world of work. They're the ones that have the information; they're the ones that we as companies feed to to try to draw students into these type internships. There are a lot of opportunities out there; it's just being able to communicate that activity.
[Narrator] The Internet offers resources and interactive activities to explore careers.
[Ryan] Us blind people, we use it a lot; and it's good for surfing the Web, doing e-mail, or doing your reports.
[Narrator] And technology provides access for students with disabilities, both at home and in the workplace. Ryan, for example, uses software that reads the screen to him.
[Ryan] I can go into a Word document, I can start typing; it will speak the character as I'm typing it.
[Computer] W..i..n..d..o..w..s.. period.
[Ryan] I can also have it read to me exactly what I've typed, so I can know if I've made any spelling mistakes with it.
[Narrator] For high school students, parents have a role in the work-based learning process as well.
[Pam] Whether it be for jobs, job shadowing, internships, they have to sign a release that they know their student's doing it; that they approve and support them doing it; and their parents agree to be part of that, support their student, make sure that they're getting their homework done still, but support them in that position of getting those experiences.
[Glen] I think that some paid work experience is good for a person in high school. You still want to enjoy high school, because that's your opportunity to have fun before you hit the college and the work life; but a little work doesn't hurt.
[Narrator] Research indicates that students who work part-time actually do better in school. Stuart has to plan time for his class schedule, his commute, and his homework. It's made him quite efficient.
[Stuart] If the student feels very comfortable that his homework can be done in three hours, I think a job after school would be very nice, I think you can have money coming from somewhere, and go to school at the same time.
[Narrator] Patrick spent his summer building computers at the Easter Seals office in Spokane. He learned a lot about problem solving.
[Patrick] It was very valuable, and like to me, it's just like, now that I've done that, and had that experience, if I come to a problem in life, into a wall, I can just back up like I did at work, you know, and refigure it out and then take either the right path or the path that's going to get me out of the dead end, you know.
[Narrator] Patrick's mom was a resource for him. she answered his questions on how to make a good impression at work and how businesses operate. They also talked about his learning disability, and what that might mean on the job.
[Melinda] I have two children, one has a disability and one doesn't, and you know, we've had these similar conversations. 'Cause going to work is an unusual experience for all of us. I've been in the work world for a long period of time, but as I transitioned into new jobs I've had that same kind of scary feeling, like am I going to do it all right, am I going to be successful? So with a child with a disability, depending on that disability, time management might be an issue. With Pat, time management is an issue. So having an 8-hour day was somewhat of a struggle.
[Michael] As students prepare for a job search, parents can play a valuable support role. Especially in the areas of practicing interviewing, doing mock interviews, role playing. Students need to get comfortable in talking about their disability with an employer and, at the same time, emphasizing their strengths and their skills and abilities. Students also have to have a good resume to present to employers. sometimes the issue with that is, many students may not have a whole lot of work experience in their life so far, and therefore, what are you going to put on that resume? This is where the parents can become involved and help them identify some of their strengths, skills, experiences from home that they can actually put on this resume to present to employers.
[Dialing phone]
[Narrator] Some job skills can be practiced at home. Susanna and her mom have an agreement.
[Susanna] I make all the phone calls.
[Susan] Ever since she's been a little girl, she's been able to sit down and pick up the phone and talk and so very early on she started making her therapy appointments, and then her doctor appointments, and then she started remembering all the things that Mom was forgetting to do, and call; so she has become my personal secretary, and thank God, she is the most organized person.
[Susanna] Okay.
[Susanna] Mom should be giving me $5 each phone call. No.
[Laughs] if she did that, I would be too rich.
[Narrator] Transportation is a way that parents, and possibly mentors, can help. Ali had a summer internship at Boeing, which was a great opportunity for him. But it would have taken three buses each way, and that would have used enormous amounts of his time.
[Ali] I talked to my dad and he said Yeah, I'll help you; we'll help you however we can. Yeah, and he took me there in the morning and he come pick me up home.
[Narrator] The Boeing internship was a perfect fit with Ali's interest in engineering. And at the same time, his parents helped him learn about independence. It was a first for the whole family.
[Ali] What amazed me is that my parents, you know, never, you know, let me go away from them, they always were watching me. But the first day I went to the internship, I told my dad to, you know, just drop me there and come home. And I didn't believe he was going to do that. But he exactly did that. And I said, oh, dad, you went really quickly, you should have stayed longer, but I didn't say that to him. You know, I was a little bit worried by myself here and what to do, but then I went on, you know, and I got used to it.
[Narrator] Planning the future is a challenging process. if you'd like a road map to help guide teenagers through it, you can use the CAREERS acronym developed by the DO-IT program at the University of Washington.
[Narrator] And remember, you'll be learning something, too.
[Susan] She's the greatest kid on Earth; she's taught me everything there is about life, she really has. Everything that's important I've learned from Susanna.
[Susanna] come on, Shep. Good boy, yes, good boy.
A sheltie jumps up into Susanna's lap.