W.A.C.O. ProjectWork and College Opportunities
The W.A.C.O Project is a prerequisite for the HOPS Program.
The Work and College Opportunities (W.A.C.O.) project at Texas A&M is a 6-week program held in the summer for adults with a disability.
TWC-VR Transition Services, The Brazos Center for Independent Living (BVCIL) and the Center on Disability and Development collaborate to provide a unique college and employment experience.
About the Program
Emphasis areas include:
- Development of vocational skills
- Career exploration
- Independent living skills
Participants will gain:
- Development and instruction in professionalism.
- Self-determination and advocacy.
- Teamwork skills.
- Understanding of assistive technology.
- Independent living skills.
- Skills connected to employment and college attendance while participating in a paid work experience in the Bryan/College Station community.
The WACO summer program is held in person. The WACO event will be held June through July, Monday through Friday of each week. We feel that it is important to the participants and their families to have the weekends for family time. An agenda for WACO with more details will be shared with the participants during the program orientation.
WACO Project trainees participate in specially designed classes on self-advocacy/self-determination and professionalism on the Texas A&M campus and are given the opportunity to audit A&M or Blinn College courses based on their career interests. Their interests are matched with the needs of community business partners, providing trainees with the opportunity to participate in paid work-based learning experiences as interns in integrated job sites.
For five weeks, trainees attend classes during the morning hours; the following four weeks, they travel to individual work sites each afternoon to perform their duties as paid interns. Every evening trainees work on their independent living and social skills both alone and in groups where they:
- Prepare and consume meals,
- Assess the campus community by using public and other transportation options,
- Participate in various recreational and social activities,
- Debrief the day’s activities, and
- Prepare for the next day’s activities by completing homework assignments, doing their own laundry, etc.
The evening before the final day, a celebration is held where students and partners come together for a meal. Students are given the opportunity to share their overall experience, what they’ve learned, and what the project has meant to them.
On the final day, individual wrap-around planning sessions are conducted, where students and their family members meet with VR counselors, Texas A&M Staff, and BVCIL representatives to receive feedback on their performance and participation, as well as complete a plan for the next steps necessary for achievement of their goals in integrated and competitive employment.
Mentors (STARS) Wanted
Ideal mentors will:
- Seek opportunities to teach students with disabilities
- Have experience working with individuals with disabilities (not a requirement)
- Have work availability up to 10-20 hours per week