Newswise — As the mother of a 23-year-old daughter with special needs, Donna Karl knows the importance of having a safe outlet for her child to learn and work.

Karl, director of Administration for the Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, has launched a partnership for Loyola with the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE) to give students like her daughter an opportunity to work at the university.

“Opportunities like these are vital for children with special needs, but unfortunately limited, because companies don’t want to give up the time or the space,” Karl said. “These kids are so capable. They just need a little help, so I’m so grateful we were able to offer them these positions.”

For two months this summer, the students will help the Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Therapeutics with a variety of tasks from preparing documents for scanning to typing to getting pipet tips ready for use in the lab. The students, who are high school age, work for three hours, Monday through Wednesday, under the guidance of their supervisor.

“I love being in a new environment,” said Patrick Smith, a LADSE student at Riverside Brookfield High School. “It is a nice break from school.”

Karl said the program is mutually beneficial. The participants get to learn new skills and gain experience and the department has a few extra hands to help with the work.

“Patrick and the rest of the students all work hard, and they have fun doing their different tasks,” Karl said. “They have such great attitudes, and they are so excited to try something new.”

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