Layton High School raises money for people with disabilities

Helping hand • The $12,000 raised will help PARC participants learn skills.
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Singing in grocery stores, making over teachers and collecting spare change from cars as classmates left the school parking lot were all techniques used by students at Layton High School to raise scholarship money for the Pioneer Adult Rehab Center.

PARC is a nonprofit established in 1972 that is administered by the Davis School District. PARC serves more than 600 people with disabilities in Davis, Weber, Salt Lake and Tooele counties. PARC's mission is to foster independence for people with disabilities through employment and training. Programs are supported by a combination of state and federal dollars through a fee for service and PARC's own government and commercial contracts. PARC participants are served based on their personal needs and employment decisions.

SteVan Gates, a PARC Community Partnership Foundation Board member, came up with the idea for an Ambassador program that would allow high school students the opportunity to get involved with PARC.

Gates, who is the parent of a special-needs child, was aware that young adults with disabilities have a 70 percent unemployment rate and wanted to do something to help. Gates also saw high-school students' desire to help and their need to be able to list community service activities on their résumés. He saw combining those needs as a win-win situation.

More than 70 high-school student leaders participated in the Davis County School District's High School Ambassador Program. The program gives students the opportunity to unite their schools and raise money to provide PARC scholarships for fellow students with disabilities.

"It allows students to say on their résumé, 'I was an ambassador for the program,' and describe the activities they participated in. High-school kids want to be involved; this is an outlet for community service. They rally around special-needs kids. We have had wild success with the program," Gates said.

Of all the participating high schools, Layton has had the most success, raising nearly $12,000.

Christie Techmeyer, a teacher at Layton High School and the student-body officer adviser, oversaw enthusiastic students.

Techmeyer said students at Layton High always have been supportive of students with disabilities — the school has a "Best Buddies" program where students are paired up with students with disabilities to be a support system.

"The queen and the king last year were all kids who were Best Buddies. When they were crowned, our kids just stood up and cheered and cheered," said Techmeyer.

This passion for their fellow classmates was the driving force behind fundraising efforts. "They felt such a value in raising money for PARC. It made them so proud," Techmeyer said. "They really saw the vision of what they were donating for."

All the money raised was used for scholarships for students going through the PARC program. The money raised by Layton High School went first to Layton High special-needs students. Because Layton High raised so much money, the extra funds went to help students from other schools.

Layton students worked throughout the year to raise money for the program. The culminating event was an assembly at the end of the year where more than $6,000 was raised. Teachers shaved beards and students climbed in piles of ice all in the name of fundraising. Layton High student-body officers were awarded a trophy for their fundraising efforts. The traveling trophy will be awarded to the school that raises the most funds next year.

John Pitt, board president and economic-development executive at Logistic Specialties Inc., said, "The foundation is tremendously grateful to the students at Layton and Viewmont high schools. Their generosity shows their desire to partner with the community to make sure all students have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. We are pleased to be partners with them. We're hoping that their example will ignite a similar sense of community with all the schools in the district."

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