Students face a variety of challenges every day in Denver Public Schools (DPS) — whether it’s navigating the hallways, struggling with a tough math problem, or crafting the perfect response to an essay question.
For a small community of DPS students, however, the most difficult challenges are ones they were born with — their disabilities.
But what is a disability?
It could be an inability to concentrate, dyslexia, reading comprehension, studying, or another study skill. It could also be a lack of confidence, whether with life skills such as navigating the city’s transportation system or in a hectic social environment.
The fact of the matter is, each of us has ‘special needs’ or a disability. We just don’t always see it on the surface.
“We all have special needs, and we all have ways of managing them,” said Bo Tobin, a teacher with the DPS 18-21 Transition Program. “For some of our students with particular special needs, they never had that chance to learn how to manage them in the traditional school setting.”
The DPS 18-21 Transition Program supports special education students who are already in college or in career training programs with community-based education. The classes focus on life, career and study skills, as well as money management and adult literacy.
Tobin works closely with students as a mentor, guiding them through life’s biggest challenges.
“It equals freedom and is your ticket to more freedoms,” Tobin said. “People want to belong and be productive in life. The goal of 18-21 Transition is to help students become productive members of society after school services are done by connecting them to the agencies that are out there while also helping them understand how they can best work with, not against, their special needs.”
For Conor Coleman, who has Mosaic Down Syndrome, his time with Tobin in the 18-21 Transition Program was about building confidence — both with transportation and within the workplace.
Coleman, who had a difficult time in high school, now works with Rocky Mountain Human Services as an office assistant.
“I feel like I’m thankful […] that I have friends who support me and help me with just being my own person,” Coleman said. “They have helped me become reliable, responsible and really successful in life.”
Another student who is currently in the 18-21 Transition Program, Shanelle Clinton, says the program has changed her life.
“I have a reading disability, and I totally felt lost [in high school],” Clinton said. “18-21 Transition… it’s a blessing. I didn’t expect it to be like this. I was lost, and they pointed me in [the right direction], and I found a good path to walk on.”
For more information about the 18-21 Transition Program, contact Mary Anne Linzmeyer via email or call (720) 423-2892.
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