Collinsville, Illinois – Keshawn Thomas is now a proud employee of the City of Collinsville. He was honored at the city council this week for becoming the first individual to complete his one-year apprenticeship for students with disabilities.
This program is the result of an effort by the City of Collinsville, the US Department of Labor, the Madison County Employment and Training Agency, and Collinsville Community Unit School District 10. Thomas completed her USDOL apprenticeship on Tuesday.
“This is where this program begins. I hope you will.”
Thomas is now an employee of Parks and Recreation in Collinsville, doing landscaping and groundskeeping. His mother, Tarika, joined her family and friends at a ceremony honoring her son at City Hall on Tuesday night.
“I am very proud,” she said. “He’s been breaking milestones since he was 3 when he was diagnosed with autism.”
“I try not to cry,” said Kathy Krupka, a special education teacher for the Collinsville School District.
“You live for these moments,” said Collinsville city manager Mitch Blair. “Sometimes I wonder how much influence I have on people as a civil servant.”
There was also a surprise presentation at the Tuesday meeting. Parks and Recreation employee Michael Dowell was honored to mentor Thomas.
Earlier in the day, Dowell was helping Thomas plant bulbs in the ground outside the city’s aqua park.
While they were digging, Dowell said to Thomas, “There will be all kinds of pretty flowers this spring. Everyone will love it.” rice field.
When the two finished work, Dowell said of Thomas: resembling sunshine. He comes and brightens everyone’s day. ”
Following Tuesday’s surprise awards, Dowell hopes more people will learn about the apprenticeship program.
“This is something that I hope will bring more attention to great things,” he said.
After the ceremony, Thomas thanked those in attendance.
Four more students are currently enrolled in the apprenticeship program. City officials said they have witnessed incredible growth and independence from participants.
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