Students in our High School High Tech program are bright, and eager to prepare for their futures as young adults.

That’s why we were excited to tour a manufacturing plant as part of our Disability Mentoring Day events this year. Deidra Simon, our High School/High Tech Program Coordinator took a group of her students to Safariland. The Safariland Group manufactures and distributes law enforcement products, including duty gear, holsters, body armor, and tactical headsets. The company has been around for 50 years and is now made up of 25 of the most highly regarded brands when it comes to protective products.

“Touring Safariland was an incredible experience for the students,” said Simon. “They were able to see how a manufacturing plant works, and also learned about possible job opportunities.”

Safariland Plant Manager, Shane Weddle conducted the tour for everyone. He led the students through all the processes necessary to create their products. He talked about many of the different jobs that involved in running a manufacturing plant. The students learned on the tour exactly what makes Safariland such a great company to work for. Safariland’s mission is, “Together, we save lives.” The youth saw the mission in action as they saw all the different employees working together to create an amazing product.

“This was a great tour for the students because there is always so much going on here,” said Weddle. “I had a lot of fun leading the tour because the students were so interested in everything that was happening. I could read their energy, they were curious and asked a lot of questions.”

Weddle also shared how important and meaningful this type of work is. Part of Weddle’s job is creating equipment that will save men and women’s lives. “I enjoyed being able to talk about manufacturing jobs that are currently available, and how those jobs will ultimately change people’s lives for the better.”

Weddle said there are currently jobs available for students as long as they are 18 years of age and willing to work.

“One of the best parts of the tour for me was showing my students the job opportunities that might someday be open to them,” said Simon.

Helping students prepare for their future careers is a small part of what our program coordinator Deidra Simon does. High School/High Tech is a transition program for students with disabilities who are in 9th-12th grade and on a standard or special track diploma. The program helps students explore high tech careers, along with their own career interests to ultimately prepare them for life after high school.

At the end of the tour Weddle said that he loved having the students come in and learn more about manufacturing. “It would be great if other businesses would work to bring in more students with disabilities, and see for themselves what skills these young people have to offer.

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