Special needs students learn life lessons at Jeffersonville fire - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Special needs students learn life lessons at Jeffersonville firehouse

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The newest recruits of a southern Indiana firehouse will never fight the flames, but the nine new firefighters -- students with unique skills -- can now train for real world jobs, thanks to a new program.

It's part of the CHOYCE program at Jeffersonville High School. "CHOYCE" stands for "Community Helping our Youth Career Education." 

The ninth graders take their classroom into the community once a week: special needs students facing challenges like Down syndrome and autism, working on skills like cooperation, confidence and caring. 

"I'm very proud of you all," said Sgt. Justin Ames of the Jeffersonville Fire Department.

"We are doing this to help the students build the soft skills they need to make them marketable in the job force," said Angela Kern, a teacher at Jeffersonville High School. "They're just like us, they just learn a little differently."

The students are halfway through a nine-week course with Jeffersonville Fire. They will mimic an on-duty day, complete with equipment checks, cleaning and training. 

"We learned about rolling up the fire hose and checking the fire truck," said Johnathan Wood, a student.

"We have to have our gear on within two minutes of the alarm going off," Sgt. Ames told the students.

Sgt. Ames asked WDRB's Gilbert Corsey and Kyle Lizenby to help with an exercise. It was a team building lesson, to engage with the kids as they would with anyone else in the public.

In many ways they're giving the community as much as they're getting. 

"This is everything in the world, everything," Kern said, choking up. "I'm proud."

"I get a gift because I see them when they come in and when they grow and develop as people," Kern added.

And at least one student says he now knows what he wants to do with his life.

"Be a fireman," Treveyon Polk said.

The students have also trained with local police and an animal shelter.

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