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Disability Mentoring Day teaches students with disabilities about employment opportunities in Lubbock

Updated: Feb. 21, 2020 at 8:25 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Today is Disability Mentoring Day, a nationwide effort to encourage students with special needs to seek meaningful employment.

Here in Lubbock, more than 100 students in special education departments in eight surrounding school districts came together to learn about job opportunities at local businesses.

“I thought I was the only one that was looking for a job but also scared because of my disability.”

That was before Chemo Rodela participated in United We Work. Now, Rodela said he sees everyone else the same as himself.

“It actually inspired me to keep trying,” Rodela said.

Rodela and more than 100 other students with disabilities or special needs learned about employment opportunities in Lubbock and got hands-on experience at businesses across the city.

“We went to Tinseltown and we just learned about how the movie theaters work,” Rodela said.

Cameilia Reyes, with Amerigroup, said this partnership is important to their organization.

“There’s plenty of people here in Lubbock that are interested in hiring them,” Reyes said.

Participating businesses like Market Street, One Guy’s Pizza and Tinseltown.

“We have several that bring back applications,” Reyes said.

Reyes said meaningful employment is key to overall health, including for people with disabilities.

“The special people, we’re just the same as everyone else,” Rodela said. “It’s just we are a little more special.”

Rodela currently works at McDonald’s in Slaton. He said it was this event last year that inspired him to apply.

“If you want a job and you think you can’t get it because of your disability, don’t think that,” Rodela said.

Rodela said he is thankful for his supervisor, who has not just taught him how to handle money or cook, but how to work with other people.

“Just how he knows about my disability and still wants to help me, that is a great boss,” Rodela said.

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