New program aims to help disabled youth prepare for the workforce

New program aims to help disabled youth prepare for the workforce
( Image: Hawaii News Now )
( Image: Hawaii News Now )

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting this summer, Lanakila Pacific will kick off a new program for teenagers and young adults faced with physical, cognitive or social challenges.

For six weeks, 49 of them will learn the basics of holding down a job.

"Folks with disabilities can still participate. We just have to make the right accommodations to make sure everybody can be part of it," Lanakila's outgoing president and CEO Marian Tsuji said.

The Summer Youth Employment Program is a partnership with the State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The youth participants are students ages 16 to 24, and they'll work at various businesses.

"For some it's their first opportunity to work," incoming president and CEO Rona Fukumoto said.

The summer program has selected the students but Lanakila's still looking for employers in areas like customer service, hospitality, retail and warehouse who can put the participants to work for 19 hours a week.

The benefit for employers: Lanakila will pay their wages.

"They're going to learn about being on time for work, how to dress  and act, and then just a little bit about being a part of a work team," Fukumoto said.

Lanakila's Meals on Wheels program and silk screening and embroidery shop train disabled adults to be independent.

The new program seeks to replicate that success with youth.

"You don't want to start working with somebody when they're in their 20s or 30s. You want to work with them as early as you can, so that you can teach them the kinds of skills and values that that are necessary to be successful in the world of work," Tsuji said.

If your business wants to get involved in the Summer Youth Employment Program contact Lanakila Pacific at 356-8583.

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