Jardon Arts and Crafts Store by Students with Special Needs Offers Creativity and Independence

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The Jardon General Store might look like your standard craft vendor, but walk in and you’ll see it’s an opportunity. The store works with students with special needs at Jardon Vocational School, which is part of the Hazel Park school district.

“It makes me happy to work here,” said student Gabe Kleckner.

Before the pandemic, these students learned professional skills outside of the classroom.

“We had several sites in Beaumont before Covid, we were working at the Detroit Zoo, at the Arctic Café,” said Megan Papasian-Broadwell, principal of the Jardon Vocational School.

But when the students returned for in-person classes, some restrictions remained.

“We weren’t allowed to send our students out into the community to practice their professional skills, and that’s why they come here,” said Broadwell.

So administrators and staff had to come up with another plan – and decided to think outside the box.

“We had the idea to start creating micro-enterprises at school,” said the director.

The students were trained and started making all kinds of items.

“We took the plants from the greenhouse, then we put them in cups with a little soil, we put stones in each cup, and then we watered them,” Gabe said.

Another student, Alex, is autistic and speaks through a device. He took the time to show us the floor mats he makes.

As the students created objects, the school staff and administrators decided to take this concept to the next level.

“(By) designing it as a general store, so we can really showcase their craftsmanship and develop their independence and creativity,” Broadwell said.

Students are now learning skills for future jobs and independent living.

The general store is open to the public at 2200 Woodward Heights Avenue. The inauguration of the store will take place From September 29 to October 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. To consult the school’s Facebook page, CLICK HERE.

“I think it’s really nice to help the kids,” said client Jenna Krzyzak. “And they have a really nice selection here.”

“I am so proud of all of the students and staff, they really put their heart and soul into learning and preparing for the future,” said Broadwell.


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