The Rapidian

KVO & CBOT work in collaboration with Kent County Health Department

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KVO is teaming up with Kent County Health Department to offer life skills class.
Diane Richard in Life Skills class as part of her KVO & CBOT program

Diane Richard in Life Skills class as part of her KVO & CBOT program /Courtesy of KVO & CBOT

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Tracey Malinowski speaks with Michael B. during group discussion

Tracey Malinowski speaks with Michael B. during group discussion /Tracey Malinowski speaks with Michael B. during group discussion

Kristen Gillard, KVO & CBOT student enjoys learning skills to help him make friends

Kristen Gillard, KVO & CBOT student enjoys learning skills to help him make friends /Kristen Gillard, KVO & CBOT student enjoys learning skills to help him make friends

Life skills are a large part of the KVO & CBOT’s curriculum. What are life skills? These are skills that many of us may take for granted. Yet the students in Grand Rapids Public Schools Kent Vocational Options program, serving student with disabilities, include this as part of their daily instructions. These skills include, among other things, topics such as setting short and long term goals, resisting peer pressure, becoming aware of the dangers of illegal drugs, making and maintaining friendships, reducing stress and anger management.

David is one the students who attended this class. “I learned a lot from it. I got to set goals for myself and I learned to interact with people better. Tracy is very informative and she’s a great teacher.” David is a 23-year-old young man in one of the KVO Autism Spectrum Disorder Hillcrest Classrooms.

These classes meet once a week for between eight to 12 weeks in the Hillcrest gym with Tracey Malinowski of the Kent County Health Department.  She does a wonderful job at tailoring her instruction to this unique audience, said Angela Smith, one of the teachers at Hillcrest. All of the students genuinely enjoy this time to share and participate in a large group instruction with their peers.

Another student who attended this class, Bill, said “It was pretty good, in fact it was fantastic. I liked that you got to talk about feelings like anger and happiness. It was pretty cool when we talked about different heights that people were. Tracey was pretty cool and I hope we can do it again next year.”

Alex said that he enjoyed “pass-the-coffee-can,” an activity to foster collaboration and problem solving by passing an empty coffee can around a circle of peers, using only one’s legs. Alex struggles with some gross motor and fine motor skill deficits yet he enjoyed this challenging activity with his peers.

Diane Richard, a student of Angela Smith, said, "Tracey was very nice. She talked about anger with us on the last day. She said it was a good idea to count to ten to calm myself. I'll miss her next year when I graduate." Her classmate Kristen Gillard also remembered that lesson but liked the lesson on using good eye contact when speaking to others because she said it is a good way to make friends.

 

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