Garden of Youth is a job skill development program for youth ages 16-21 with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). We work in small groups with a job coach for 10 weeks over the summer to learn and practice soft job skills that will be applicable for any future employment. Interns spend three mornings a week planting, maintaining and harvesting organic produce at 8 school garden sites across Denver.
Groups of 3-4 interns work alongside an experienced job coach to learn and practice skills such as showing up on-time, working together, professional communication and behavior, problem solving and work stamina.
Over ten weeks, interns grow their skills as they grow their gardens. Each week we learn new job and garden skills. We have hold students to clear and high expectations and find they rise to meet them.
We work Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 am to 11 am from June 2nd through August 6th. We have two days of Job Readiness Training, May 5th and 6th, to complete intake paperwork and prepare interns with expectations and guidelines.
We partner with Division of Vocational Rehab (DVR) to provide intern pay for Garden of Youth and continued employment support through age 21.
DVR provides supported employment opportunities in Colorado for individuals with the most significant disabilities through partnership with employers, the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (CDDC), Office of Community Living, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), Mental Health Service Organizations, and the Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council (BHPAC).
Supported employment services are provided by DVR as ongoing support services, including Customized Employment and Individual Placement and Supports, and other appropriate services needed to support and maintain an individual with a most significant disability in Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE), including a youth with a most significant disability. Employment must be consistent with the client’s strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
A SWAP Specialist with Denver Public Schools will reach out to you to get your student connected with DVR for supports to participate in Garden Of Youth.
The Denver Public Schools Garden of Youth (GoY) program provides paid work experience and extended job skills training to students with IEP’s to prepare them for future employment through growing and selling organic produce.
Students with obstacles to employment receive the opportunity to grow their job skills, independence and life skills through extended job skills training in a small group setting.
Garden of Youth interns planting at the George Washington HS garden.
The DPS Garden of Youth (GOY) program provides job and life skill training to high school students with disabilities. Students complete interviews and are hired as paid interns, working in teams at eight schools across Denver. Interns experience work as active and vital participants in their community; bringing healthy, fresh food to local residents and businesses while simultaneously learning about nutrition, healthy lifestyles and practicing their job skills.
Students engage in planting, maintaining and harvesting fresh vegetables and herbs. Seedlings are cultivated in special education classrooms by students. Plants are transplanted to garden plots and tended by paid student interns selected to continue with the program during the summer. Garden of Youth interns sell harvested produce at local Farmers Markets.
Dedicated DPS staff mentor students through the summer to successfully market and sell produce, providing training in the areas of independence, job readiness, merchandising and customer service. These skills are transferable to any job a student may pursue after the season is complete.
Interns participate in cooking classes led by a local chef offering instruction in preparation techniques and nutrition. Students are encouraged to take home any produce that their family will use. We are dedicated to connecting the organic produce to school cafeterias through the DPS Garden to Cafeteria program and local food banks.
All participants earn high school credit for work hours completed. Those who wish to continue working during the summer will earn both school credit and an hourly wage. Currently, eight schools across the host Garden of Youth program.