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ACE Transition Program connects students with intellectual disabilities to Leon County businesses

Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 18:31:05-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A new Leon County partner is helping students with intellectual disabilities give back to their community.

The Adult and Community Education School's motto is simple: "A great start for a better future." For students with disabilities, their Transition Program helps adults 18- to 22-years-old transition from school to the workforce.

Like many others at ACE, 29-year-old Malik Shaw has a learning disability.

"I love it," Shaw said. "Everyday."

Shaw has worked with the Adult and Community Education School's Transition program for almost a year now. Through the school's program he's learned how to conduct himself while working a job.

"How to speak and look people straight in the eye," said Shaw. "Stay focused and stay on task."

The ACE Transition Program gives young adults with disabilities, ranging from autism to cerebral palsy, the chance to gain work experience following their education. Currently, the program has 10 business partners that provide temporary employment to students in the program.

Amanda Lewis, an ESE instructor, is thankful for them because she knows how much of an impact it has on her students.

"Not only does it give our students purpose, but they know that they are helping the community and they are gaining work experience for their resumes," said Lewis.

This month another job site opened up, giving students more options to learn and grow as a professional. Elder Care Service's Meals on Wheels now allows ACE students to go around and give out meals to the elderly.

"Tallahassee has blown my mind," Lewis said. "Talking to people in the community and seeing that they are willing to give our students a chance... people have just come with open arms. People have hired our students and accepted them as interns."

It's opportunities like these that give Shaw a chance to live the life he's always wanted.

"I like to help people who need help and are feeling stressed," said Shaw.

The ACE Transition Program is looking for more business partners to help prepare students for success. For more information about how to help ACE Leon and the Transition Program, click here.