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A sense of accomplishment

Local businesses offer special needs high school students real-world experience

Bluffton High School students stuff envelopes for Hilton Head Monthly as part of a community work program.Riley Lewis glows and a huge smile spreads across his face when he talks about his work helping stuff, label and seal thousands of envelopes for Hilton Head Monthly. “They said we did good!” the 19-year-old Bluffton High School special needs student said.

Riley is one of approximately 30 students who took part in BHS’ Community Based Instruction program during the 2008-09 school year. The program is intended to give Beaufort County’s special needs high school students real-world experience at local businesses.

English Brown, the school’s job coach, coordinates the BHS program. “The students have a sense of, ‘I’ve really accomplished something,’ when they’ve finished a job,” said Brown. “The other side is getting them out into the community and letting the general community see that these people are productive and valuable.”

The BHS students, whose disabilities range from autism to Down Syndrome, have worked for a variety of local businesses, including Hilton Head Monthly, which contracted with BHS for the students to stuff 10,000 subscriptiondrive envelopes at the school.

Hilton Head Monthly is just one of several businesses that have taken part in the free fouryear-old program. Students have also cleaned and set tables at Bluffton’s La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, and done laundry and some room cleaning at Holiday Inn Express.

BHS special needs teacher Janice Robinson said the program is “amazing.”

“These students get a sense of self-respect and a sense of belonging to the community,” she said. “They feel they are valued and productive members of society. It’s awesome.”

TO PARTICIPATE

If your business would like to take part in the Community Based Instruction program during the 2009-2010 school year, call:

  • Bluffton High School: 843-706-8800
  • Hilton Head Island High School: 843-689-4800