Disability support group helps graduating seniors enter the workforce

Local News

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — A local non-profit which supports people with disabilities is looking for ways to serve its members through the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but I miss school because its normal,” said Elizabeth Schoop a graduating senior of Rogers High School. She’s also part of  S.W.E.P. the Student Work Experience Program at the Arkansas Support Network also known as ASN.

“We go to a variety of workplaces for the experience and before that we learn how to be professional in the classroom,” said Elizabeth. 

“We go over work readiness, how to interview, how to speak to an employer, how to advocate for yourself as an employee and in the spring semester they actually get to go to work,” said ASN Vocational Service Manager, Ashley Tougaw-Mccutcheon.

Schoop has Autism and is learning how to transition into the workforce. Her ASN team said she has really grown in the past few years.

“She’s come a long way. Sometimes it would be a bit difficult to get her to focus on what was happening because there were so many interesting things going on around her but now she could be a leader in the group,” said Tougaw-Mccutcheon.

“I don’t know how she would have made it her junior and senior year without SWEP. That’s what motivated her, you go to school you can go to SWEP,” said schoop’s mom Mary Elizabeth Schoop.

The program was stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“That was hard because I was very excited to see what she could learn this second semester and try to find that part-time job,” said Schoop.

“We actually have a summer program right now and we are trying to figure out how to continue to provide services and ensure the safety of the students as well,” said Tougaw-Mccutcheon

Schoop said she will be the first to sign up and has big plans for herself.

“College and being an author because I really like writing my own stories and I really hope I can illustrate my own things too, I’m not the best artist but I like to draw.”

A drive-by graduation parade by ASN has been postponed.

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