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Walgreens Employs Vista Student Despite Reading Disability

Just over a year ago, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center student Christian Vidal began training for employment through an internship at the Walgreens in Clinton, CT. This was an especially meaningful accomplishment for Christian, who is not able to read. Being a very organized person, Christian quickly exceled in his primary task of stocking and displaying products. He pulled and organized replenishment carts from the stockroom to the sales floor and filled the sales floor. He was able to work with his primary job coach from Vista, Dan Coca-Ducach, to develop a system of looking at the last few digits of each product’s barcode and sorting items throughout the store accordingly. Christian was able to match up descriptions, UPC's and WIC's # to learn to where to fill product in from the stock room to the sales floor. During his time at Walgreens, Christian also learned what the relationship should between an employee and a big company.

                Walgreens, being very supportive of Christian’s abilities and accomplishments during his initial internship, decided to grant Christian a second 6 month internship. During this period, Christian would focus on developing his social and customer service skills, by interacting more regularly with the customers and with his coworkers. Christian’s job coach Dan supported this effort by helping Christian to frequently greet and acknowledge customers and by showing him how to comfortably seek answers to questions that he may be unsure of from other coworkers. Dan would often play the role of the customer as well, to help Christian develop conversational skills. Additionally, Walgreens went above and beyond their expected role as an employer by maintaining a checklist to document how often Christian was initiating conversation. Dan, Christian’s coworkers and his manager Bill Williams, developed a daily task routine that made it easy for him to follow and be successful. According to Bill, “Christian was an absolute delight to work with and get to know. We tried to make him feel like he was part of the crew, and like family.” After some incredible achievements during this second internship period, Christian was notified of an opening for paid employment at the Walgreens in Branford, CT. Due to his proficiency in stocking and product display, partnered with his new social and customer service capabilities, Christian landed the job.

                Christian is currently learning the ins and outs of the Branford store and has successfully undertaken new tasks. His transition has been smooth, and while a job coach is still there to help guide him during his shifts, this presence is gradually lessening. Christian will soon be maintaining employment independently which is an inspiring accomplishment. Despite not being able to read, Christian has learned many valuable skills and during his time at Walgreens, a journey which he hopes is just beginning.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization.  Vista’s mission is “Providing services and resources to individuals with disabilities to create opportunities for personal success.”

For more information regarding Vista, please visit www.vistavocational.org

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