In the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping at Towne Square Mall on Saturday, Daviess County High School students sat in rocking chairs outside JCPenney, decked in holiday attire and rocking for a cause.
In their first Rock-A-Thon fundraiser, The Council for Exceptional Children had seven teams of four or more students who brought their own rocking chairs to decorate and take turns rocking in for three hours.
The club raised $2,000 for a trip to Carl D. Perkins Vocational Training Center in Thelma, Ky. later in the school year. The club, sponsored by special education teacher Amber Allen, is made up of students with special needs and their peer tutors.
This will be the third time Allen has taken her students to the Perkins center. According to the center’s brochure, their program is aimed to “help persons with disabilities achieve sustainable competitive integrated employment, maximize independence, yet gain self-respect through the provision of comprehensive services.”
“I want all of my students and their parents to have the opportunity to visit,” Allen said.
The center is located six hours aways by school bus and requires an overnight stay, which is where the cost stems from according to Allen. The center is a division of Kentucky Vocational Rehabilitation and is free for special needs students to tour and attend upon referral.
Perkins teaches students life skills, independence and occupational skill training in building maintenance, cosmetology, custodial and food services, grounds keeping, office technology among other skill areas.
“Last time I took students to Perkins one of them decided to go there and was certified in food services,” Allen said. “Now she is an employee of Daviess County Public Schools and works in the cafeterias. She is a success story.”
Deanna Isbill, a mother of one of Allen’s students, said this club allows her son the opportunity to make friends and have fun inclusively.
“Those relationships are few and special,” Isbill said. “Most typical classmates and tutors are in and out of a special education student’s life, but the few in his life are huge blessings.”
Special needs students are allowed to continue their education until they are 21 years old. Isbill’s son will remain in Allen’s class until his 21st birthday on April 30.
“He is ready to start the next chapter in his life. He’s looking forward to having a job,” Isbill said. “He wants to work in the food industry in a public, social setting.”
This will be the second trip to the Perkins center in three years for Isbill’s son.
“It’s important to explore all our options and keep our minds open as parent,” Isbill said. “He is part of the decision making process.”