COVINGTON, Ky. — A center focused on helping people with disabilities in Northern Kentucky has been preparing high school students for the workforce in the future by throwing them right into it. Selling snacks is helping build confidence and making a meaningful, lasting impression.

What You Need To Know

  • The snack shop at the Point Ark of Northern Kentucky is teaching students with disabilities skills they will need to enter the workforce in the future

  • Different teams within the shop prepare orders, count money and deliver them to Point employees

  • Students say the program is helping them feel more confident

  • The head of the program says workers with disabilities are a valuable asset to any community

In recent weeks, 17-year-old Raven Nelson has blossomed.

“It makes me really confident to do my job, if I get a job,” she said. “And it helps disabled kids like me learn more about jobs.”

Nelson described her and her partner’s roles.

Transition coordinator Katie Lanham says everything starts with the production team filling out orders. (Spectrum News 1/Sam Knef)

“Our job is customer service. We deliver, and the product team gives us the delivery. We check them and we go deliver them,” she said.

They make up just one component of the snack shop at the Point Ark of Northern Kentucky.

Katie Lanham, transition coordinator and instructor for the Point, said this program is teaching high school students with disabilities how to succeed.

“It has been such a joy to watch them, and to see them really build the skills that they will need to succeed in life after graduation,” Lanham said. “Everybody has a place in this world. It doesn’t matter if they learn differently, or how they’re labeled, whether they have a disability or not.”

Everything starts with the production team, which fills out snack orders for Point employees. The shop has bankers Adam Miller and Arianna Epping, who add up all the money, which is something that’s really helping Epping at her actual job in the Skyline Chili drive through.

“I think it’s a cool thing to have in the community, because it gives opportunities to a lot of kids, teens and adults too,” Epping said.

“At first I was a bit nervous about this, but then as I slowly started doing it, I got used to it,” Miller said. “I feel like it’s been helping me a lot.”

When the orders are all set to go, the customer service team delivers them door to door. It’s something Nelson said she really has a knack for, and could see herself doing in the future.

“I would love to do delivery, like a Pizza Hut,” she said.

Students will also learn more about how to interview well and how to write resumes.