Market Day offers pathway

21:53, Aug 19 2012
Waimea College
FUTURE PROOF: Waimea College special education’s Food for Flatters group. From left to right, the group are: Ashleigh Cattell, Luke Blanken, Samantha Ellery, Kyi Tha Htain and Sonia Beach

The special education department at Waimea College has organised a market day to help graduating students with intellectual or communication disabilities make the transition from school to adult life more easily.

To be held on Wednesday in the college hall, the day will run from 1pm till 6pm, and involve about 30 stalls. Stall-holders included government-run services like Work and Income, private companies such as Driving Miss Daisy and local tertiary education providers.

Associate deputy principal Graeme Smith would officially open the market, followed by talks from Special Olympian Chris Tilley, and Karen Bailey, the manager of care provider Support Works.

Organiser Alison Browning said the market was the first of its kind in Nelson as it allowed students to ‘‘scope out’’ stalls independently rather than going through a co-ordinator, approaching vendors with any questions they had about their vision of life after secondary school.

She was reluctant to estimate how many special-needs students would attend the event with their families, but said schools from as far away as Blenheim had expressed an interest. Alison recommended families to start planning their child’s transition from school to adult life from year 8.

‘‘You can’t just spend one year putting your life together,’’ she said. ‘‘You need to start a lot earlier than that.’’
Alison had got Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) funding to cover the cost of hiring tables, with the rest of the market expenses funded by the college.

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She said she had been amazed at the response to the event, with Waimea College students in media studies, English and art classes using their skills to help create resources like banners and video clips.

Waimea’s special education class of 38 children were ‘‘incredibly excited,’’ said Alison, with five students forming a ‘‘Food for Flatters’’ group selling snacks to market-goers.

The class was working on identifying aspects of postgraduate life they might find challenging, and figuring out who they could speak to at the market about solving those problems.

To help other schools prepare their students, Alison had distributed a worksheet titled ‘‘Getting Ready for Transition Market Day’’ with a series of sample questions and clear instructions on how the day worked.

Alison said students benefited best from a strength-based model which allowed them to make as many decisions for themselves as possible.

‘‘It’s the only way to make them sustainable,’’ she said. ‘‘The more you rely on other people, the less sustainable your life becomes.’’

If the market day was successful, Alison hoped to hold again every second year.