AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Thursday, Region 16, AmeriGroup, and Workforce Solutions teamed up for disability mentoring day, to help special education students learn about job opportunities.

30 students in the special education program at Amarillo ISD gathered at Region 16 on Thursday to get a better idea about how to transition into the workforce.

Camelia Alonzo, a community relations representative for AmeriGroup, said this is the second time they have hosted the event for Amarillo ISD students. This year, they were able to shadow employees at nine different job sites.

“We have an application process that they fill out, and they give us their top three job interests. So from there, that’s whenever we reach out to local businesses to place these students, that way they know that, you know, anything they’re interested, in no matter what disability they have, that they can do anything that they want to do,” said Alonzo.

She said several students did job shadowing at Pizza Planet and made lunch for the attendees. Others who were interested in law enforcement visited the Amarillo Police Department. Alonzo said students who want to work with animals went to P.E.T.S. and another group visited Barnes & Noble.

“The local businesses here have worked really well with us to just take the students on and give them some hands-on learning,” Alonzo said.

Alonzo also said the students are typically juniors and seniors who are preparing to look for jobs after graduation.

“It helps our students know what’s out there, but it also helps the community know that we have a wide variety of individuals with special needs that should and deserve the opportunity to work. And it just gives them the opportunity to have them in their facilities and be willing to take them on as an employee,” said Myra Johnson, an education specialist at Region 16.

After students returned from job shadowing, they took part in mock interviews to get more hands-on experience with the hiring process.

“If you are a business and you are interested in sponsoring some kids next year and actually giving them some hands-on learning, then definitely contact Amarillo ISD, their special education department and we’d love to have you on board next year,” Alonzo added.

Johnson said Region 16 will host another similar event in February that will not be limited to students in Amarillo ISD.

“It will be for some of our rural communities because rural students really struggle when it comes to employment opportunities because often the employers in their communities are limited,” she said.