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TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

Colton High class visits LLUMC for a learning experience

Every Wednesday since October 2005 Colton High teacher Steve Barton has been bringing a group of his special education students to LLUMC to help the volunteer services department.

The students take part in one of three activities through the school district’s WorkAbility program. The students can help design and color handmade note cards for Operation Care Package put on by volunteer services, or since the program has grown, help keep the grounds clean around  Children’s Hospital or spend their time washing the Care Connection van that makes trips to Sun City for volunteer services.

“This seemed like the ideal place,” says Mr. Barton of his class’s participation at Loma Linda. “You have people that won’t shy away from special ed students and we can learn about daily activities. We get to study bus schedules and reading menus. We can practice a lot of life skills in our trip by visiting the post office and the market, all in very close reach to us on our visit.”

Each week a team leader is chosen to supervise the cleaning of the Care Connection van, and Mr. Barton evaluates students on job performance, offering helpful encouragement and tips to the washers and leader.

“We get to keep it clean for the old people,” says Jonathan Branson, 18, the team leader for the cleaning crew on Wednesday, March 8.

“Or as we like to call them, senior citizens,” chimes in Gilbert Martinez, a 16-year-old student cleaning the bumper with a sponge. Mr. Barton’s class has been washing the van since the program expanded at the first of the year in 2006 to include the van washing and grounds cleanup.

The students making cards on March 8 created a total of seven packages, each with 10 cards decorated in a spring theme. Sylvia Balderas from Colton High, Mr. Barton’s assistant, supervises the card-making activity. Since beginning in October 2005, the Colton High students have made nearly 1,500 cards.

“I did a cold-call back in October to Denise Winter in volunteer services to start the cards,” says Mr. Barton. “It’s been one of the best calls I’ve ever made.”

By Preston Clarke Smith

TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006