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Students In RISE Program Selling Handmade Dog Toys While Learning About How To Become Independent Young Adults

RISE Students Make Dog Toys

Students In RISE Program Selling Handmade Dog Toys While Learning About How To Become Independent Young Adults

One high school is still teaching students even after they graduate. A program at Union Public Schools helps those aged 18-22 with intellectual disabilities learn about life skills and how to become an independent young adult. Story

Marking, cutting, and braiding T-shirts: that's a lot of what happened in Emily O'Shaughnessy's classroom during the spring semester. She's the transition coordinator for the Union Public Schools RISE program.

"We created this program for them to be able to kind of figure out what the individual and their families, what it is they want to do once they age out of the school system," she said.

The students were working on their spring fundraiser, handmaking dog toys from old T-shirts.

"Within that, we work on their fine motor skills, we work on their social skills, we just try to kind of take the whole project and make it work toward each individual," O'Shaughnessy said.

It wasn't just about braiding and selling the dog toys; it was an effort to help the students learn life skills, and that hard work pays off.

The money made from the toys goes back to the RISE program for the students to participate in community outings.

"Well, we try to make money to buy more markers, buy stuff for the classroom. Spend money wisely, not spend it all. If you spend it all, you don't have no money, you're broke," student Alex Henderson said.

Henderson graduated high school last year. He said RISE helped him look forward to the future. "My goal is to know how to drive, be independent, and not live in my mom's house the whole time," he said.

O'Shaughnessy said her goal with the program was to help her students make a smooth transition to independence. "I want their last day in the school system. I want that next day to look exactly the same for them," she said.

You can purchase these dog toys for $5 or you can make a donation to the program. To purchase, make a donation, or donate old T-shirts, contact