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Composite High School launches Life Skills Café

They poured coffee, stirred, added cream and sugar as needed, and beamed with pride. Fort McMurray Composite High School’s Life Skills class launched “I Love You a Latte,” café  on November 14, 2017 at the school.

The Life Skills program is designed for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities at the secondary level. It is set up into four levels of academic achievement based on five specific strands: functional numeracy, functional literacy, social skills, personal living/ employability skills, and physical literacy skills.

The café will be an opportunity to provide students with social skills as they sell baked goods, and coffee to students and staff.

Jennifer Currie, Life Skills teacher, oversees the program, which has seven students enrolled this year.

“We have students with severe disabilities, who are autistic, non-verbal, or have Down Syndrome. We are working on getting them best prepared for life after high school. We focus on things like social skills, personal skills including hygiene, taking the bus/learning bus numbers, and routes among other things,” Currie explained.

“As for the café, they will be delivering baked goods to teachers and staff, making eye contact, and taking their learned skills out of the classroom. This will help them get to know other students, and vice versa. It will build their self-esteem, and help them find work and volunteer placements, which can be challenging. Some of the students work at Save-On, Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, and Keyano College; these groups have been our biggest supporters,” added Currie, who has been with the school for three years.

                                                                                                           

Christina Campbell, Mental Health Counsellor, and teacher at Composite High School came up with the idea for the café.

“This is a way for our students to get practical skills. By learning money sense, and interacting with customers, they’ll find ways to prepare for a real world job. We will make everything in-house for the café. It’s another way of including them in the building instead of being isolated,” noted Campbell, who has been with the school for two years.

Kevin Bergen, Principal, Composite High School was excited for the launch event.

"The Life Skills café is an innovative way to address programming for our students with special needs to enhance their social interaction with peers and adult staff in the building. The classroom staff and students are excited to provide morning snacks and hot drinks for all of us in the school, and we support this initiative wholeheartedly."

Shannon Noble, Assistant Superintendent, Inclusive Education, applauded the students and staff on launching the café.

“This speaks volumes to our inclusive programming. Kudos to our staff, who champions our students, and seeks ways to incorporate needed daily skills in their learnings. Congratulations to our students, and teachers for making this happen,” Noble said.