District aiding life skills students with daily life

Warren County School District is helping prepare its students for life on their own.

And there’s more to education than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

For some students with disabilities, reading a recipe, writing an email, and managing personal finances are among the key skills they need to practice in order to be able to live independently.

Those kinds of skills fall in the list of instrumental activities of daily living (ADL). The list also includes things like how to use public transportation, how to find resources in the library, how to use the internet, managing medication, shopping, and how to avoid scams.

The district has been operating a limited, age-appropriate community-based instruction (CBI) program for students in life skills and autistic support programs in the central attendance area.

District officials have developed a more robust program with numerous community partners.

“CBI has to be a meaningful learning experience,” Director of Pupil Service Dr. Patricia Hawley said. “My vision was way more than swimming at the YMCA.”

In a letter sent to parents in October, Hawley outlined the changes. “The of community-based instruction is education instruction which occurs in the community environments providing students real-life experiences. The goal is to provide a variety of hands-on learning opportunities at all age levels to help students acquire the activities of daily living skills necessary for independent living and to enhance the quality of life. CBI activities will occur regularly throughout the school year and vary year-to-year to ensure students are exposed to a variety of CBI opportunities as they age.”

Swimming is still part of the program. It is on the schedule for March, April, and May this school year.

But, there are several other outings on the schedule. Students have been and will return to Applebee’s for lessons in restaurant etiquette, budget management, and ordering from a menu.

Students practiced taking the Transit Authority of Warren County (TAWC) bus on a trip to Warren Public Library. That event gave them practice in working with the bus schedule, getting the driver to stop at the right location, library etiquette, how to find books and other resources, and working with the internet.

“We’re embracing things like Applebee’s and TAWC,” Hawley said. “Applebee’s is embracing a partnership.”

The district is working on programs for later in the year with the City of Warren Police regarding park safety and Warren County for tours of the courthouse and the public assistance office.

“They need to learn where to go to advocate for themselves,” Hawley said.

They need to know how to care for themselves. “We’re looking at self-care, first aid, and yoga,” she said.

And, the students are being encouraged to care for others.

“We’re going to teach the kids how to give back to the community,” Hawley said.

In November, students packed bags of food and donated them to the Salvation Army and planned a holiday gathering. They invited veterans to join them for a Thanksgiving feast. In each case, students had to prepare their grocery plans and do the shopping. Older students were involved in the financial planning for the events.

Students will take holiday cards, ornaments, and blankets to local nursing homes in December.

“We’re going to present our gifts to them,” Hawley said. “And students will engage in activities with the residents.”

Baseline ADL information was taken at the beginning of the year and Hawley will get some feedback on the renovated program in May when students’ end-of-year ADL progress is measured.