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The Arc schedules Job-A-Palooza seeking local businesses

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The Arc Big Bend has scheduled a fun-filled event for local and surrounding area youth with varying disabilities to learn and demonstrate new job skills and make great connections in the process. Mark your calendars for Friday, Sept. 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., which is when you can join the Arc at the Cherry Lake 4H Campsite, located at 3861 NE Cherry Lake Cir., in Madison.

According to the Arc Big Bend, the Job-A-Palooza bridges the communication gap between three distinct groups: businesses, youth and young adults with disabilities, and youth and young adult mentors. Businesses provide job tasks and judge competitors based on the speed and quality in which they complete a task. Mentors teach these skills to competitors utilizing task analysis, as well as coach and cheer their competitor through each competitive task.

"The Arc Big Bend is thrilled to have this opportunity to bring our community together in a way that shows that we are inclusive and recognize that we all have value regardless of the level of our ability," said Paula Arnold, Executive Director of the Arc Big Bend.

Students with disabilities will learn up to five job skills from five different area businesses throughout these competitions. Each student and peer mentor is provided a substantial stipend for their training and competition efforts. If you are between the ages of 14 and 21, you are eligible to participate to learn new skills, make new friends and have fun. There are also opportunities for prizes and awards.

If you are interested in mentoring a student with a disability and between the ages of 14 and 21, you can receive a stipend and provide valuable support to one of your peers.

The Arc Big Bend plans to schedule a time to meet with students and mentors prior to the Job-A-Palooza to allow them time to get to know each other and work on the job skills for the event. "At the event, we expect the 'rounds' to be timed and the students will go from one business station to the next," said Arnold. After the competition, lunch will be provided to students, mentors and business representatives. A short awards ceremony will be conducted to distribute prizes.

The Arc Big Bend is a community-based nonprofit 501(c)3 organization primarily serving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are a disability-neutral organization in that they will serve persons with any disability that are referred to the organization. The Arc Big Bend also provides an array of services to the communities we serve and are always looking for additional programs they can provide that will add significant benefits. If you're a business in and around Madison County and would like to participate, you may do so! This is a great opportunity for businesses to be recognized as disability-friendly and will work to create a fun-filled and beneficial one-day event. Participation is easy, inspiring and most definitely rewarding.

To participate as a business, you must provide one to two volunteers to represent your business. Businesses will receive recognition through social media, local newspaper advertisements, as well as brochures and flyers. The Arc Big Bend will have t-shirts printed for the participants with all contributing business logos on them.

For more information about the Job-A-Palooza or about the Arc Big Bend, call (850) 973-4614 or log onto thearcbigbend.org/jobapalooza/.

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