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Gaither High School inclusivity program teaches students with special needs valuable business skills

Students also use their skills to help homeless
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Posted at 3:39 AM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 08:06:19-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Estelle Farias and her students are running a very profitable business at Tampa's Gaither High School.

Chips, cookies, delicious drinks. Even homemade pillows and aprons. They sell it all to a loyal fanbase of teachers and kids.

"We took our business and made it very, very huge," Farias said.

Each of her coworkers, all of whom are teenagers with intellectual disabilities, has a job to do, whether it's sewing or accounting, selling or ordering new product.

This is the 12 Plus Program, which prepares students with special needs, who have already graduated from high school, for future careers.

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12 Plus also stresses inclusivity, as the kids have formed friendships with the traditional students at Gaither they interact with every day.

"The program helps them buy into their futures, but it also teaches them humility, that not everyone gets what they want in life," said Farias.

This phenomenal educator is creating smart workers and, just as important, really good people.

The students are currently sewing and stuffing "A Little Love" bags for the homeless. Cute travel bags filled with soap, socks, toothpaste and more.

"I'm really happy I could help the homeless," said a smiling J.J., one of the 12 Plus students.

For more on the 12 Plus program, or to help out Ms. Farias and her coworkers, click here.