SPAIN: Students with disabilities learn independence
Transition to Adult and Working Life program helps youth find job opportunities
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Institute Christ the Priest in Huelva, Spain, provides education for youth to gain a formal education in primary and secondary school before advancing on to vocational training. Hundreds of students have gained their education and studied for their future professions. One of the institute’s successful programs is the Transition to Adult and Working Life program. It was set up with the community of Andalusia, which aids youth with intellectual disabilities to find and retain employment.
The program, established 14 years ago, provides skill education for students ages 16-20. After completing basic compulsory schooling, these youth enroll in the program to continue to grow and face adult life as independently as possible.
Salesians have built a small apartment-style classroom with different rooms so youth can learn to fend for themselves. Youth learn how to do laundry, iron, cook, wash and go grocery shopping, among other tasks of daily living. The students work with their teachers with the goal of learning routines that prepare them to live on their own.
María José Pérez and Guadalupe Galloso direct this program and are mentors for the five youth who take the program each term. Class size is small so students can receive one-on-one instruction. The students are eager to share experiences with their peers and to access a job opportunity in line with their interests.
Although the program is offered in other educational centers in Huelva, Salesians have integrated the program with the rest of the student community. This enables students to take advantage of other vocational courses and educational offerings to help them achieve their dreams.
One Salesian said, “Personal autonomy is promoted as much as possible by the Salesians in Huelva, fostering the idea that students are adults and capable persons. Their well-being and self-care, personal security, and emotional balance are respected, and they are challenged to learn work skills and abilities that allow them to find employment.”
Salesian missionaries have also been working for many years to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for poor youth and women in Spain through residential, technical, and vocational training programs.
Close to 32 percent of young Spanish workers under the age of 25 are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live. Poor youth with few employable skills struggle the most to find and retain stable employment. Women in Spain face inequality in the workforce. They earn up to 14 percent less than men and represent only 34.5 percent of those listed as the highest earners in Spain.
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Salesian Missions – Spain
World Bank – Spain