‘Jobapalooza’ helps students with special needs to find job opportunities


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Vocational Rehabilitation, the Arc of Florida, Bay High School, and Chautauqua all hosted an event to help special needs students prepare for job interviews.

Sixty-one students with disabilities from Bay High and Chautauqua, with a mentor for each, met with twenty-seven local businesses to simulate job tasks and interviews.

Students with challenges demonstrating their job skills while discovering their aptitudes and interests.

From Shipwreck Island to construction or car repair companies were all in attendance to give these students opportunities to find work.

Mentors at the event say they believe this is a great way for these students to showcase their job readiness.

“Being able to see that there are opportunities for them in the world that they can do things and showing them that they have capabilities. Because so often they are labeled that you’re incapable or you’re not able to do things in the real world, you’re just handicapped in that sense but having these businesses here showing them know you can do some tasks still, you can sweep, you can do this– it just shows them they are worth something to the community,” said Bay High Student Mentor, Anna Rudek.

Staff helping with the event say they saw great eye contact, handshaking, and completion of tasks.

“With manners and things like that typically when you go to a job interview they look at things like eye contact and your self-confidence in yourself and with the job fair we just want them to learn that. Because we do want what’s best for them and to go and progress upon their lives and get jobs and things like that,” said Bay High Student Mentor, Jazmira Guzman. 

They hope to hold similar events for students with special needs in the future to help them find work right here in Bay County.

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