Umatilla School District Student Chosen for SWIFT Program

The Umatilla School District is pleased to announce that one of its students Emmanuel (Manny) Salas, has been chosen to attend the SWIFT (Summer Work Internship for Transition) program this summer. SWIFT is a seven-week, residential program at Portland State University that provides students a taste of the work world, independent living and more. Open to students aged 16 to 20, the program provides a weekly stipend and work pay.

Students are eligible to apply if they are a participant in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  After completing an application outlining his goals, interests and preferences in early January, Manny was interviewed and then selected. He will train with experts in:

*Vocational Exploration
*Assistant Technology
*Public Transportation Travel
*Skills needed to live independently (laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, etc.)

Only 20 participants were selected across the state, and Manny is the first one from Umatilla County to be accepted. The student's interests include working in a floral department or store, working on window decorating, and learning how to be a salon host.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for Manny to further his skills in the ongoing process to succeed in the working world and continue to become independent,” said Julie Hunt, Special Education Director of Umatilla School District.

Previously, the student participated in the school district’s S.W.E.L.L. (Summer Work-based Experience Learning Lesson) cooperative program and Youth Transition Program during the summer of 2018, and secured a job at Walmart, where he has worked for the past 16 months.

S.W.E.L.L. fosters self- and career-exploration, develops positive work habits and attitudes and provides opportunities for students to strengthen key soft-skill areas such as communication, enthusiasm and attitude.  Students work to fortify teamwork, networking, problem-solving, critical thinking skills and professionalism.

Through S.W.E.L.L., students engage in a co-op work team, working alongside non-disabled peers in workplaces in the community. The program also allows students the chance to explore how to communicate disability-related work support and accommodation needs.

Opportunities include inclusive practices and activities such as job shadowing, volunteering, internships, apprenticeships, work readiness experiences and paid summer hours for transition-aged students, with documented disabilities who are enrolled in Umatilla School District. The program placed 15 students in the summer of 2018, 13 students during the summer of 2019. Due to the program’s success, the state granted Umatilla School District additional funds in December, to implement W.E.L.L. (Winter Work-based Experience Learning Lesson).  To date, the winter program has placed eight students.

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