Social and Job Skills are the Focus of Center4SpecialNeeds Programs

By Christina Elston

social skills

Participants in the Center4SpecialNeeds Teen Club build social skills and confidence while having fun. PHOTOS COURTESY CENTER4SPECIALNEEDS

The Center4SpecialNeeds, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources, education and supports for children with developmental disabilities and their families, has sessions of two popular programs beginning in January.

Kids/Teens Clubs offer activities designed to help improve children’s social skills and build self-esteem and confidence. The groups are co-ed and organized by age and abilities. Led by clinicians and support staff, the primary focus is cultivating the skills to communicate and interact with peers. There are many ways to communicate thoughts and feelings with others, and Kids/Teens Clubs can assist participants in learning about reciprocal communication, body language and how to navigate social situations, as well as maintaining positive relationships and reducing anxiety.

Because children and teens with developmental disabilities typically attend many treatment sessions throughout the week, the last thing they want is another therapy being added to their routine. The goal of Kids/Teens Clubs is to have participants view their time at the center as fun, enabling them to be more open to the learning process and more willing to attend.

Clubs meet weekly at the Center 4 Special Needs Thousand Oaks location, and some partial and full scholarships are available.

For those ages 16 and up who are interested in entering the workforce, the center is offering a job skills program called Work It Out! at the center’s Thousand Oaks location. This program is designed to educate potential employees with disabilities about the interpersonal and practical skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Students will gain critical personal insight through personality and career assessments. The program will also provide access to real-world experience via professional guest speakers and field trips to tour local businesses.

social skills

The Work It Out! program offers job-skills training and experience.

In addition, Center4SpecialNeeds will offer qualifying participants the opportunity to volunteer in its main office, where they will be able to practice their newly acquired skills as well as help build their resumes.

The Interpersonal Skills portion of the program, facilitated by educational psychologist Pamela Bamerio, will cover:

  • The importance of a positive mental attitude and adaptability;
  • Professionalism;
  • Strong work ethic and initiative;
  • Time management and stress reduction;
  • Communication styles;
  • Problem solving, critical thinking and decision making; and
  • Teamwork, leadership and collaboration.

The Practical Skills portion of the program, led by Center4SpecialNeeds founder Gina Giambi Peters, will help participants learn:

  • How to obtain and fill out a job application,
  • Resume writing,
  • Interview techniques and
  • Networking.

Weekday sessions are offered from 6-8:30 p.m. Tue. and Thurs. Jan. 22-March 7. Weekend sessions take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 26-March 23. The complete program is 34 hours in length, and partial and full scholarships are available.

Learn more about Center4SpecialNeeds programs at

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