Kavin Pathmanathan grew up playing in the aisles of his parents' grocery store each morning. Now, a recent graduate of Parkholme School—a school for Brampton and Caledon students with developmental disabilities—Kavin looks forward to working at the same grocery store, using the skills he's developed through the school's Transition Program.
In line with school's motto, "Towards Independence," the Transition Program at Parkholme provides students with special education needs with work experience and functional life skills to successfully transition into the community.
"Most of our students, like Kavin, will be streamed into day programs in the community," says Patricia Digby, teacher at Parkholme. "To this end, we try to prepare them and their parents for this final transition into the community, where they are valued for the skills that they have, can join their families socially, and can make a meaningful contribution to the community."
As part of the program, Kavin helped at the school's laundry facilities, Fluff and Fold, and car wash. He also spent his Wednesday mornings taking supervised trips to the grocery store to purchase groceries for Wooden Spoon¸ the school's student-run café. The trip involves preparing the shopping list, taking public transit to the local grocery store, finding all the necessary items from the list, and paying and bagging all items.
"In this next stage, he's going to be doing a lot more out in the community, so us exposing him to things like this is very important," says Brad Gray, teaching assistant.
"We've worked together to get him ready and excited to move on to this next chapter."
Through Transition Meetings, Kavin meets with the school's psychology consultant, language translator, work experience coordinator, school staff and outside agencies to develop goals and determine how to gather the tools and school experiences to reach them.
Now that Kavin has graduated, he plans to use these skills to work at his parents' grocery store.
"He takes a lot of pride in his work—between going to a day program in the community to actually being able to help out," says Gray. "He's come a long way."
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