Students embark on the road to independent living

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This June, HISD is teaching young people to be part of a community beyond the classroom.

The Summer Social Skills Enrichment Program gives students the opportunity to gain crucial skills that will help them become self-sufficient in college and in life. Sixty-two students are using the four-week course to participate in activities such as riding the city bus, visiting college campuses, and practicing social interactions.

The program relies on active experiences to teach students the social skills necessary to transition from high school to the real world. The goal is to help participants make their own choices—whether it’s about a college, a career, or just a bus route—and to become as independent as possible.

“We practice things in the classroom, and then we go into the community and we actually practice these things in authentic settings,” said instructor Maria Azios.

On June 18, the high-school group took the bus and the light rail to University of Houston-Downtown (UH-D) for a day of learning about transportation safety and college life. While traveling via bus and walking around UH-D, teachers encouraged students to observe signs, read maps, and compare food prices. The students also visited the admissions office, the financial aid office, the student center, and the athletic center in order to observe all the tasks a college student must do for him or herself.

“It’s very important for [the students] to understand some of the differences between high school and college, to understand what to expect,” said Azios. “It is different, but it’s not an impossible jump for them to make.”