Special needs students set, achieve their goals

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PARIS – Micki Cordwell has ridden horses since she was 5, and by June she wants to get better.

The senior at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School wrote the goal on a piece of paper.

She went to the school’s wood shop to help make a box to put it in, then she rolled it up and slipped it in. She’ll open the box in June with the rest of the class, and hope that they all achieved their goals.

On Friday, about 30 special needs students from Oxford Hills, Poland Regional and Leavitt Area high schools met for an Advisory Council on Transition workshop on having a sense of accomplishment.

This was part of an eight workshop series the council hosts throughout the school year at various schools, including workshops on belonging, heroes, fun and excitement, curiosity and creativity, spirit of adventure, leadership and responsibility, and confidence to take action.

Student leaders from each participating school attended Friday with hopes that they could take the skills they learned and bring them back to students at their respective schools. Students rotate in the leader position monthly, and those leaders choose the activities.

“The whole goal is to get kids to build up their confidence and self-esteem,” said Mary Redmond-Luce, regional coordinator for ACOT, based in Livermore Falls.

There are 11 school systems in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, and they are held throughout the region, Redmond-Luce said.

Denise LeBlanc, instructor of the diversified occupations program at Oxford Hills, said the program is good for the special needs students because in high school they don’t participate in many programs.

“A lot of them don’t have enough confidence,” she added.

Friday’s workshop started with an activity for the students divided up into four groups to get to know each other. Then each student listed their own strengths, whether it be at sports, music, or in general, and stapled them together.

“In order to accomplish things in life you have to have strength,” student leader Holly Roberts from Oxford Hills told the group.

After the exercise with the goals, the students ate lunch and socialized, and decorated the boxes they made. Other goals going into the boxes included getting better grades, finding a job and getting a car.

ACOT is a statewide program, divided into six regions. It helps youths with disabilities transition into adult life by providing leadership training and holding programs which boost self-esteem.

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