Young adults are learning more at Van Go Mobile Arts than just how to be creative. They are also learning how to get jobs.
Through the center’s transitional employment program, post-high school students have the opportunity to receive advice and training before entering the workforce.
Ed Brunt, program director, said the students are in a demographic that often falls through the cracks. He said the 18- to 21-year-olds are in an age group that doesn’t get a lot of assistance in finding a job and could benefit from such a program. With that idea in mind, the Arts Train program kicked off in January.
“We try to get the kids ready for introduction into the workforce and get them ready to be productive members of the working society,” Brunt said.
Five students are working summer jobs through the program. Before entering the workforce, the students take classes in digital design, woodcutting and art. They also learn practical skills such as interviewing and appropriate dress for work.
Ashley Bailey, a 20-year-old from Colorado, summed up her learning experience in one word.
“Life — how to live life and some things you can look forward to doing in life,” Bailey said.
Brunt said the most rewarding part of the program is seeing the young adults come out of their shells and build self-esteem.
“You begin to see who they are and they begin to see what they are really capable of doing,” Brunt said.
Ala Wyrick, an Arts Train member from Lawrence, works at the front desk of the Van Go center. She said the program has helped her grow as an individual and realize her potential.
“I love working here — we all act like a family,” Wyrick said.
Starting in September, eight to 10 more students will have the opportunity to benefit from the new program.