PITTSBURG — To help area students with disabilities get a successful career, area service providers, businesses and colleges came together to help provide resources for the annual Disability Mentoring Day. 

The event is part of a national initiative to raise “awareness of employment and the empowerment of the disability community,” DMD Chair Lou Ann Colyer said. “One of the goals is to help take away the stigma of being labeled disabled.” 

Approximately 125 high school students from 11 different school districts across Crawford County, Cherokee County and other area counties, attended the event on Wednesday at Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium. 

“We can give the kids a heads up on what resources are actually available and who they may need to talk to at a later date,” Colyer said. 

The students traveled to different stations where they were taught the perils and pitfalls of social media, had mock interviews and practiced active listening using legos. 

“They are preparing for interviews, not just grooming, but what questions to ask at the interview,” Colyer said, “and what questions to be prepared to answer, so when that employer asks you what your strengths are you don’t give them a deer in the headlights look. 

“And when they ask you about what your weaknesses are that you don’t talk yourself out of a job by giving the wrong answer.” 

Pittsburg High School Theatre students put on a brief performance on being interviewed. At the end of the act, the attendees shared which of the characters were more likely to get hired based off the characters’ behaviors during their interview.

The students also attended a special presentation on a Louisburg resident, Joe Steffy, who is the owner of a kettle corn business called Poppin’ Joe’s. The presentation shared Steffy’s story of being a sole proprietor with down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. 

Colyer applauded the efforts of the community. The event was made possible through the community teaming up to help provide these resources for the students, she said.