WSVN — Students and young adults are getting ready for the real world.

"What is something else that you maybe wouldn't wear Cory? Sweatpants and sneakers."

The YMCA of Broward County runs the Supported, Training Employability Program called STEP.

Maryalicia Johnson: "To provide children and high schoolers with developmental disabilities an opportunity to be able to learn social, employability and daily living skills."

The program covers the basics. Everything from how to dress for a job interview, to managing money.

Maryalicia Johnson: "How to speak on an interview, how to go for an interview, how to act at their job."

Twenty-year-old Amy worked at the Mariott Hotel over the summer and was excited to earn her first paycheck.

Amy: "I'm learning to be responsible and to be independent."

Nineteen-year-old Johnny hasn't spoken much since he was little. But his dad said the STEP program has brought his son out of his shell.

Paul Veliyathil: "It's improved his, I would say his personality, social skills and communication."

So much so Johnny also got his first real job at the Mariott.

Paul Veliyathil: "He diligently woke up every morning and got dressed, took his lunch bag and went to work."

Several other students landed jobs at Publix in Coral Springs bagged groceries and stocking shelves.

Kyle and Brandon loved coming to work everyday.

Wanda Jones: "He loves being around people, he loves helping people."

Brandon's mom said it's a challenge for parents of children with special needs as they make the transition to adulthood.

That's why programs like this, which teach them critical life skills are so important.

Wanda Jones: "He still has a little way to go but that was so wonderful because he got that independence, he got that you know what, I feel that I can do this."


YMCA of Broward

Children's Services Council of Broward

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