KAP Circle of Support students gain experience at CCK
- Author: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Four KAP Circle of Support students, college students in the Kelly Autism Program at WKU, are spending the summer helping campers at the Center for Courageous Kids, a non-profit camp that serves children with serious illnesses. These students are participating in CCK’s Pathfinder Program, which provides young adults with high functioning autism an opportunity to gain workplace experience while also taking part in workshops designed to increase knowledge of professional practices and workplace behaviors. The experience is aimed at encouraging each student on their journey to independent living.
Avery Wilcox, a sophomore Theatre Design and Technology major and KAP Circle of Support student from O’Fallon, Ill., is working as an Equestrian Assistant at CCK. Some of her responsibilities include taking the horses into the barn in the morning, getting them ready for campers to handle, letting them out at the end of the day, and cleaning their stalls. She also leads or walks alongside horses while campers are riding them. She interacts with campers through the Track Program at CCK.
“The Track Program is where each camper picks a horse. They’re with the horse for three days. The first day they groom, the second day they learn how to tack up the horse - in other words, put the saddle on the horse, and the third day they ride,” said Wilcox.
Wilcox said she loves serving the campers at CCK.
“This place is really something the world needs,” said Wilcox. “I am incredibly honored to have this opportunity to make some kids’ lives better.”
KAP Circle of Support helped Wilcox in the job application process. She said she went to one of her advisors and requested help with writing a résumé because she was struggling to build one on her own. She said KAP was one of the reasons she felt confident in the interview process.
Another Pathfinder Program participant, Hannah Covington, a freshman and KAP Circle of Support student studying Nutrition and Wellness from Frankfort, Ky., is working in the program as a Steward in the kitchen at CCK. She spends her time serving campers by washing dishes, making water and lemonade pitchers, and preparing the dining room before mealtimes.
“I’m testing my abilities to see if I’d be interested in working in the kitchen role or working in an office environment after I get my degree,” said Covington.
She said her advisors at KAP Circle of Support encouraged her to interview for the job at CCK so that she could obtain work experience related to her major. She admits that the job has pushed her to her limits at times but that she is glad that she has the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
Ed Collins, Director of Specialized Projects at CCK, said that the Pathfinder Program is designed to give the participant not only physical work experience but also workshops that focus on employment skills that don’t always come easy for a young adult with autism.
“In KAP the undergraduates begin the process of working on interview skills and résumé development,” said Collins. “We build on that by talking about how to prepare for an interview, which involves things like knowing exactly where you are supposed to be, determining what type of traffic might be in the area, and doing research on the organization in advance of the interview. During one of our workshops, I take my laptop out, look up CCK’s website as an example, and discuss some things you can learn from an organization’s website.”
The Pathfinder Program is in its third season. Collins said he hopes that the program and the collaboration between CCK and KAP Circle of Support continues to grow so that more young adults with autism can benefit.
For more information, visit www.wku.edu/kapcircleofsupport.