Six young adults from a school that supports students with a disability are making the most of their workplace lessons after gaining internships with the Christchurch City Council.
Four Ferndale School students have secured placements at South Library while two are digging into their intern roles in the Botanic Gardens. They are the first Council interns from the specialist education school, which caters to the needs of students – aged from five to 21 – with disabilities.
Ferndale School Principal Maureen Poulter believes that the internships can “help everyone understand what a fabulous world this is when diversity is part of our society”.
“Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Council staff have fully supported and worked with us to make this a possibility for our transition students,” Ms Poulter says. “We appreciate their sharing of our vision for our young people as we work together to support inclusion within Christchurch.”
Students Amarjit and Elijah are revelling in their work in the Botanic Gardens, and already stepping up to the workplace challenge.
“It is the highlight of my week,” Amarjit says of his day in the Gardens. “It's practical and I enjoy doing the deadheading.”
“Doing work experience will help me get a job when I leave school,” Elijah says.
Council Head of Parks Andrew Rutledge says having the students working as part of the Botanic Gardens team is a valuable experience for the staff involved.
“We value diversity at the Council and this programme gives us a great opportunity to ‘walk the talk’. It has a truly positive effect on the teams they work with,” Mr Rutledge says.
Council Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson says that the four girls – Jessica, Brooke, Caitlin and Emma – have all brought “enthusiasm, joy, curiosity and plenty of positive energy” to their workplace.
“They love working at South Library and we love their commitment and exuberance,” she says.
“These young people want to make a positive contribution to their wider community and it is important to give them an equally wider opportunity to develop their skills and recognise what they can achieve,” she says.
“With the Council intern programme, the students can grow and gain confidence within our work environment so that they are ready to step into a new role following their school years.”
Caitlin says she “loves the library work, which is interesting and fun”.
The school hopes that there will be more opportunities for students to learn workplace skills and make a valuable contribution to their local community.