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Flower Cart Program Prepares Students for Independence
Posted 11/1/22

student with flowersEvery other week, students from the Seamless Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) carefully deliver Mason jars with thoughtful floral arrangements to schools and offices throughout Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD). With each delivery, students with special needs are one step closer to independent living.

STEP prepares 18-to-22-year-old students for independent living. The program includes life skills and vocational training while focusing on students’ individual strengths and preferences with the goal of improving their quality of life. The Flower Cart initiative is one of many ways in which STEP prepares students for future employment opportunities and directly contributes to enhancing our school community.

NMUSD Education Specialist John Hudson formulated the idea of running a small business to help support adult students with special needs. Students in the STEP program learn many life skills through this program that are essential to supporting their independence and success in the “real world.”

The student-run, subscription-based flower-delivery service started in 2018 and is currently available at 30 school sites and the NMUSD offices, with locations added every year.

Every part of assembling and delivering the flowers is done by the students, whether it’s cutting greenery, which helps with their spatial abilities; arranging flowers and decorating the jars, which allows them to exercise their creativity while improving fine motor skills; washing jars and loading the finished arrangements into district vans, which strengthens their gross motor skills; and delivering to customers, which increases their communication and customer service skills through natural conversation. These skills prepare them for jobs outside of this school program.

“Regardless of a student’s abilities, we are focused on creating a path of opportunity,” said STEP Coordinator Kimberly Doyle. 

“We provide students with training and experiences that can lead to gainful and competitive employment, while also guiding them to be independent,” said Doyle. “In addition to the financial benefit of a job, students report a greater sense of purpose, increased self-esteem, and improved relationships and connections,” she said. 

Students also become role models as they are supported in their classroom deliveries by younger students with special needs. “Flower-delivery day at Victoria Elementary has become a happy, fun day. We are happy to see our former students working toward their life goals,” said Teacher Tracy Scofield Darbee.

When students graduate from the STEP program, they take with them the skills necessary to succeed as independent adults. To learn more about the opportunities and services offered to young adults through, visit the STEP webpage.