Working With The Differently-Abled

With Thrive Upstate

Learning Objectives

  • Developing empathy for the challenges faced by disabled individuals

  • Understanding the capabilities of those with special needs

  • Experiencing the range of career opportunities available in working with the disabled

The Experience

For over six decades, Thrive Upstate has assisted those with special needs in South Carolina’s Upstate, and worked to improve their lives. With deep respect, love, and vision, Thrive provides quality care and creates a special niche for each person. Thrive’s motto is “redefining ability” in order to establish meaningful opportunities for the consumers of its specially-tailored programs. BFE students are introduced to Thrive’s many programs as they tour their impressive facilities.

At Thrive, creating enjoyable, productive lives for the consumers is a top priority. Consumers derive immense satisfaction from working through Thrive’s employment program. During a tour of Thrive’s enormous industrial office, students help consumers in various assembly line or manufacturing jobs. Students learn about the many jobs performed by Thrive’s consumers, and that consumers earn a wage based on their productivity rate. Consumers take great pride in their work and are delighted to showcase their talents to the students.

Developing Empathy

In an empathic exercise at Thrive’s center for autism needs, students are guided through an activity designed to simulate the constant mental distractions faced by those diagnosed with autism, involving loud music and strobe lights.

In another exercise, students step into the shoes of someone who is paralyzed from the waist down. Wheelchairs are given to students, who attempt to push themselves across hallways, open large double doors, and go to the restroom by themselves. Throughout the day, students step into the realities of life without vision or the use of one’s limbs.

BFE students also work within Thrive’s extensive greenhouses where consumers participate in sustainable farming practices. The greenhouses feature innovative technology such as a vegetable bed which uses robotic technology to water and weed the plants. In this happy sun-filled setting, students and consumers spend time with one another and nurture a wide variety of vegetables from seed to finish. The harvest is later served to Thrive’s community or sold to local farmer’s markets.

This profoundly emotional experience leaves a lasting impact on students, who are given a glimpse into the realities of those who are differently abled.