It’s time to clean out the attic and give those gently used items a new life.
Hays High School is asking for furniture and household donations for a new transition program.
“The transition program would be for students with intellectual disabilities that we’re working with to be as absolutely independent as possible,” Hays High Principal Marty Straub said.
Students have access to a home now to learn some independent living skills, but they aren’t able to access it as much as they would an in-school apartment.
It’s a nice home, but it’s located across town, Straub said.
Transportation has to be scheduled, and it takes 15 minutes to drive there. Add the return trip and loading and unloading, and it eats up a lot of the students’ day.
It’s hard to teach students how to take care of an apartment — furnish it, hang a picture, set a thermostat, clean a stove and refrigerator or bake a sheet of cookies if those things aren’t available to them.
“Those things that you and I might take for granted, these are things that we can help these students with,” Straub said.
An office suite vacated when PATHS moved to the Early Childhood Connections Washington site will be transformed into the pseudo apartment.
Straub said administrators considered other uses for the space, but “there was really no call for this area. We see this as a multi-year commitment for a transitional space.”
The nearly 900-square-foot space includes a large area that will be furnished as a living and dining room area, a former break area will be a kitchen and an office will become a bedroom.
A handicap accessible bathroom is included in the unit.
The institutional white walls need to be warmed up with paint, and holes in the walls patched before it’s filled with furniture. Straub said the school’s maintenance crew has been too busy to paint, but the goal is to have the space completed by early November.
Some rewiring to accommodate a stove and possibly washer and dryer, also are needed. PATHS left a working refrigerator, so that’s already in place.
The idea for the hands-on learning space came from the Manhattan school district, which owns a house across the street from the school.
Students there learn how to take care of a yard, shovel snow and other household maintenance chores.
The Hays High program received a $1,000 Midwest Energy grant, and Straub plans to apply for other grants.
“I see that as operating funds to buy food to cook and cleaning supplies,” he said.
Items needed include sofas, chairs, side tables, bed frames and mattresses, tablecloths, dish towels, bed linen, brooms, pots and pans, dishes and other things.
“We just want it to feel different when you walk in there, and those students need those extra attempts at developing their independence,” Straub said. “Kids can do a lot more if we give them more opportunity.”
Call Straub at Hays High, (785) 623-2600, to inquire about items needed before taking any items to the school.