In the LABBB: Real-world experience for students with special needs
January 17, 2013
Partnerships are one of the key methods to the success of Marine Polymer Technologies. We’ve forged alliances with the world’s top minds and the nation’s top hospitals, all the way down to local special needs students.
As part of the LABBB Collaborative, students from Lexington-area schools come to work in our production facility in Tewksbury every week. They assemble various pipes and tubing that helps in production of our Talymed, mrdh and Syvek products, but for the students, it’s much more than that.
“It’s vocational training so when they graduate at 22 they can go off and work on their own,” says worksite coordinator Dale Lessieur. “This is good for fine motor skills, learning to be at work on time. It helps them with the learning process of the outside world when they get out of school, how to act at a work site, how to act at work. It’s training they can use in the real world."
Initially formed as a partnership between Lexington and Arlington schools in the 1970s, the LABBB program has since grown to encompass other schools in the area including Burlington, Belmont and Bedford, according to the program’s website, www.labbb.com. The program’s goal is to help students with disabilities develop the skills necessary to succeed and live independently. “The LABBB community has a vision of skill-based instruction that considers the whole student from early childhood to adult living,” the site says. “We proceed by building skills and aptitudes to move towards independence. Self-reliance is a goal shared by all.”
“We have students come in from Manchester-By-The-Sea,” Lessieur says, “and Tewksbury, Medford; we have students from everywhere. It’s a very good program.”
The partnership with MPT began 11 years ago, says Lessieur. “It was really word of mouth. We initially did it as a trial period, and now we’ve been here 11 years.” The students Lessieur works with at MPT have different kinds of learning disabilities. She says there are students with Autism, Asperger's and Down Syndrome, as well as behavioral disabilities. Lessieur works with three students at a time at MPT, and sometimes new students rotate in.
The students come to work and learn to measure and cut the tubing at MPT. For other job sites, Lessieur says, they must know how to dress and act appropriately to the setting. Some jobs have the students learn filing, others computer skills, and more. But the goal is always for the students to develop the skills that will help them function as adults. “They learn how to deal with the public and their peers, it’s really good training for them before they leave,” says Lessieur.
MPT is proud to be a part of a program that helps young people recognize and realize their potential.
“I’ve had students leave here to get dynamite jobs, really good jobs, so it makes me feel really good that I helped them get that,” she says. We couldn’t agree more.
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