Students at Nanaimo District Secondary School are strengthening their memories and social skills by delivering the newspaper.
Dee Hartig, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools teacher, says Nanaimo District Secondary School’s Skills for Life program is made up of students with unique learning needs including students with developmental disabilities and chronic health designations.
A Nanaimo News Bulletin paper route near the Wakesiah Avenue high school was available and Cathy Murphy, an education assistant, has the bundles delivered to her house and brings them to class for delivery on Wednesdays. Under the watch of staff, five students deliver to 32 households, using a cart borrowed from a parent.
Hartig said staff are looking for work and volunteer opportunities for the students, and those opportunities have been harder to find the last two years. The idea is for the students to gain independence and employment experience for their resumé, and Murphy said the students are also improving cognitive skills.
“They’re remembering which houses to do, remembering how the papers go in, whether they go in the hook or inside the mailbox or this way,” she said. “They’re being brave enough to go into somebody’s yard on their own, try to have that little bit of independence. [It’s] life experiences really, learning how to deal with other peoples’ dogs in their yard or how different people want their papers, just those little things.”
Students have been delivering papers the past two years, said Hartig, and they work well with one another.
“I think the time while we’ve been outside and doing this job together, I think the kids have really become friends,” said Hartig. “This is the first group I’ve had, and I’ve done this for 17 years, of kids who are actually friends … hanging out outside of school as well. Walking in the community and doing something like this together has been really helpful because they’re practising those social skills that that we use. They’re true peers.”
Money earned goes back into the program for activities, treats and supplies.
“I like doing papers because it’s for money to do cool and fun stuff,” said Liam McMillan, one of the students.