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NMSU Dining Services partners with school district to prep disabled students for workforce


New Mexico State University Dining Services is teaming up with Las Cruces Public Schools to help young adults with disabilities transition into the Las Cruces workforce and provide opportunities for them to participate fully.

LPCS rolled out the Bridge Program in 2019 to show young adults with disabilities how much they are capable of and influence them to be a part of the community’s growth.

The program is accepting new young adults on a weekly basis, said LCPS special education teacher Samia Fercha-Killmar. There are 40 young adults who are currently enrolled in the program, and more spots are available.

“According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students who are eligible for special education services are entitled to a free and appropriate education through the age of 21,” Fercha-Killmar said. “The Bridge Program’s aim is to help any young adult with a disability to realize their personal abilities so they will be able to lead as full and meaningful a life as possible.”

The program is a collaborative effort among four LCPS high schools: Las Cruces, Mayfield, Centennial and Organ Mountain.

NMSU Dining Services has opened Taos Dining Hall and its kitchen to encourage students to get involved and experience their full potential in a real-word career. Employees from Sodexo, which provides NMSU dining services, will offer students hands-on experiences learning basic restaurant skills and communication skills, the news release said.

“At its base, NMSU Dining Services provides our young adults with a disability the opportunity to interact with other young adults without disabilities in an environment where they are all equal,” Fercha-Killmar said.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honor for our team to be able to aid in this program,” said NMSU Dining Services Director Ryan Vanderwall. “Our mission has always been to make every day a better day for the community we serve, and I couldn’t think of anything that resonates more to the core than this partnership. I believe it’s an excellent way to serve our community.”

For more information, contact Vanderwall at ryan.vanderwall@sodexo.com.