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Aurora Public Schools program helps students with disabilities transition to the workplace

Katerin and Lupita are two students with disabilities at the Crossroads Transition Center, trying to secure employment after graduating high school.
Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 13:26:03-04

AURORA, Colo. — Inside the Crossroads Transition Center in Aurora, you'll find dog treats, buttons and smoothies. But the shop isn't about the items — it's about the people making the products, who are looking to find independence.

“I feel proud to work by myself," said Xiomara Velasquez Morales, a student at the Crossroads Transition Center.

Morales is non-verbal and communicates through an iPad. Morales and her fellow students all have disabilities but are trying to push past perceived limits and secure employment.

“I want to bake cookies to sell,” said Morales.

The Aurora Public Schools program helps high school graduates between the ages of 18-21-years-old.

Last month, the center added a new element, the Crossroads Trading Shop. Students make products to sell, including smoothies and coffee, and interact with customers.

Students like Morales love what they do and hope the three-year program will help them secure a job. Several of the program's graduates have since found employment at local grocery stores.

“It's a proud moment for them and for us," said Jason Maloney, a transition teacher at the center. "They can be independent in the community."

Maloney has taught hundreds of students in his four years at the transition center and has seen their growth first-hand.

“I have one young lady who works at Safeway down the road, and we see her there working all the time," said Maloney.

On a wall inside the printing classroom is a list of businesses now employing former students. Maloney hopes it will inspire his current crop of students to keep pushing towards their dreams.

"Work hard and that job can be a reality for you," said Maloney.

Parents are informed about the program during an individualized education plan (IEP) meeting in their child's senior year. You can learn more about the transition center through this link.

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