disABILITY Takeover at Ynot Pizza in Ghent

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – October is disability awareness month and the theme this year is “Inclusion WORKS.”

Norfolk Public Schools offers a Career Development Post-Graduate Program for students entering the workforce with intellectual disabilities.

Students in the program perform internships and attend classes weekly focused on employment skills, independent living and social skills.

A fundraiser held at Ynot Pizza on Colley Avenue Tuesday will benefit the program. During lunch and dinner hours, while students will work alongside chefs and servers, 10 percent of proceeds will go back to a fund that helps the program buy professional clothes and uniforms.

Photos: Norfolk Schools disABILITY Takeover

Norfolk Public Schools rolled out the program five years ago with the goal of helping intellectually disabled students retain jobs or attend higher education institutions after they leave the program at age 22.

Coordinator Carolyn Cage points out hiring her students can benefit businesses.

“We’ve found, and research has shown, they’re the students that are most likely to report to work on time, they bring positive interactions to a workforce, so this is not charity,” Cage said. “This is an opportunity for business and schools to partner together.”

Interested employers may contact Norfolk Public Schools’ transition specialist Jennifer Troy at jtroy@npsk12.com or 757-628-3950.