Community Transitions bridging an important gap

Community Transitions bridging an important gap for district’s oldest students
Posted on 11/20/2018

Community Transitions may not spend entire days engrossed in academics, but the oldest students in the Lynden Schools still spend plenty of time learning.

The program, designed for 18- to 21-year-olds with mild to severe disabilities, aims to make the students as independent as possible while getting them involved in the community and set up for their adult life after school, says teacher Kristen Bock.

Based out of classroom and work space on South B.C. Avenue, Community Transitions spends at least two hours a day at a business or workplace so students can gain work and soft skills they need in employment. Whether the Green Barn, the Dutch Bakery or the Lynden Public Library, among others, the businesses work with Community Transitions to provide an opportunity for the students to learn skills alongside assistance. At times the students get to the point where they can work independently, even landing jobs that last long past Community Transitions time.

“We really try to look at what the students’ interests are and find placements based on their particular interest,” Bock says. Other partners have included the Lynden City Parks and Recreation Department, Pacific Growers, the Christian Health Care Center and Lynden Preschool.

Students also get to ply their business skills in the Community Transitions dog bones business, whether the actual creation of the bones — everything from mixing to cutting to baking — to packaging and tracking the selling of the bones, which happens at Lynden Schools sites and the Green Barn. Money raised through the business helps fund excursions into the community for the students.

Employment training isn’t the only focus at Community Transitions. Students also get plenty of social and recreational experience too. “Some of the students have goals to live in an apartment on their own or with a roommate, so we work on cooking and shopping skills,” Bock says. Whether laundry, paying bills or meal planning, students get a touch of it all.

A third major tenant of the program revolves around access to the community, whether training on the WTA bus system to exercise programs at the YMCA to connections with adult service agencies that will help the students as they age.

“We are really trying to help the students to understand what their strengths are, what their interest are and what their needs are,” Bock says. “What are they going to be able to do independently and what jobs are going to be realistic for them? We try to get them out into the community and find things they are able to be involved with when they leave here while learning how to communicate to others about what they want and need.”

Bock, who credits the team of those working with the students that the district is responsible for serving until they are 21, says the opportunity to build relationships make her position special. “I love getting out in the community with them and getting them involved in their life and community and the world around them,” she says. “It is a great mixture of both school and community life.”