So, what does this have to do with the Quaker Brake food truck? My oldest daughter spent most of the summer between her junior and senior years of high school working at Bradford Woods, an Indiana University outdoor facility that “… provides therapeutic outdoor programs to people of all backgrounds and abilities…” She spent the summer working with special needs children. It changed her life. She decided she wanted to teach Special Ed. While completing her student teaching, she taught at a segregated school. It was a school of all the special needs children, no “normal” children attended. She told me at the time that she didn’t think it reflected the real world these kids would live in.
After completing her degree in Special Education, she accepted a job in the UK, in Yorkshire England. There, the special needs kids were not only integrated into the classrooms but taught life skills. It changed how she looked at her job. After moving back to the states, she completed her masters, taught Special Ed for 12 years, became an elementary school principal. Later she completed her Ph.D and was appointed Director of Exceptional Education for a school district of 72,000 students at 82 schools. She makes a difference.
An Outdoor Special Needs Event
I’ll never forget attending a special needs outdoor event with my daughter, where current and former (graduated) students participated. It seemed she knew every student by name. However, what moved me is that she knew what they were doing with their lives. She’d explain one former student was attending a tech school, another had a job and their first apartment. And still, another had proudly landed a job at a local restaurant as a busser. As part of the student curriculum, a teacher had accompanied him to the restaurant and trained how to bus tables. It’s the same thing that the Quaker Brake does – teaches children how to contribute.
What is the Quaker Brake Food Truck?
“The Quaker Brake is staffed by high school students with special needs and supported by staff members across the district. While the Quaker Brake is a fun and engaging learning opportunity, it also helps to provide important employability skills for our students.
National data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The ARC of Indiana, and The Brookings Institution indicate that the unemployment rate for persons with a disability is more than twice the rate of those with no disability. While serving snacks and beverages to the community, the food truck provides invaluable social, communication, and functional work experiences to high school-aged students with disabilities as they prepare to enter the workforce. We also seek to increase the likelihood of their employment as adults.” — Students Staff the Quaker Brake Truck
A Visit to TKO Graphix
Not long ago, the Quaker Brake Food Truck visited TKO Graphix. It was fun for everyone to see our finished work on the Quaker Brake truck wrap. However, what was more moving was watching the kids and their supporting staff in action. It was moving to see these children learn to contribute to the real world. Thank you for everything you do, Plainfield Special Education, as well as all of the special education teachers and administrators across America. And, by the way, the food was good too!
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