WESTAMPTON, NJ-- For students at the Burlington County Special Services School District (BCSSD), fabric face masks provide more than protection from the spread of COVID-19. The masks are also providing them with a valuable vocational opportunity. 

The Transitions Program received a generous donation of over 1,000 fabric masks from The McCully Downstate TelecomPioneers, a community service organization made up of employees and retirees of telecommunications companies. TelecomPioneers' mission was to ensure all students and staff of BCSSSD had access to cloth masks. Ironically, the BCSSSD mascot is the Pioneer, so this crossing of paths seemed meant to be. 

Mrs. Mary Jean Kneringer, Principal of Transitions at BCSSSD, explained the importance of this experience for the young adults on her campus. “This generous donation has provided our young adults an opportunity to apply their classroom learning to practical activities that have real implications," she said. "Being part of this community service project has also provided the value of building self-esteem and creating a sense of self-worth among our young adults.”

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Young adults from Transitions worked to prepare the masks to be distributed to students on the BCSSSD Westampton and Transition Campuses. To prepare the masks for distribution, students were required to follow a series of steps. Students learned to work cooperatively, follow a model, package masks in bags, label the bags and count the bags needed for distribution. This work experience is more valuable than ever to the students during this time because they are unable to leave campus to gain work experience, as they normally would, due to COVID-19 restrictions in place to protect student safety and health.

“We value our staff and student safety as a priority and are grateful to business and community partners who share resources with our students with exceptionalities," said Dr. Christopher Nagy, Superintendent of BCSSD and the Burlington County Institute of Technology. 

The Transitions Program at BCSSSD has programs designed for students between the ages of 18 and 21 with disabilities. Instruction focuses on career awareness, career exploration, college readiness, community living, and recreation. The Transitions Team practices person-centered thinking and planning, in which each student’s values, gifts, strengths and abilities are identified and embraced within authentic community environments.

BCSSSD educates students with special needs from across Burlington County. Its three campuses provide comprehensive educational and therapeutic programs for preschool and school-age students, ranging from ages 3 to 21. In addition to its widely recognized programs for students with multiple disabilities and programs for children with autism, BCSSSD also offers a continuum of options for students with behavioral issues featuring both traditional, classroom-based schools and alternative approaches.

For more information about the Burlington County Special Services School District, click HERE

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