After school, typical teens and students with disabilities work side-by-side creating more than just a craft.  They’re making a future. 

“A lot of adults with disabilities are unemployed,” says Shara Reimer, a senior at Hall High School in West Hartford.  “We thought a potential solution was to form a club to help them build businesses based on their interests.”

“It’s called the WeHa Unified Business Club,” explains co-founder Darlene Borre, who was inspired by her 17-year-old son, Ben, who is non-verbal and has fine motor issues but enjoys shredding paper. 

“We kind of played around and noticed he loves to sit around a fire pit with his friends.  So, we put our heads together and thought, ‘We can make fire starters,'” she says, showing the creation.  “It’s shredded paper, soy wax, saw dust and a pine cone.”

Since September, the group has made pop sockets, t-shirts and these pendants. 

“Because off Weller, he has an interest in maps, we decided to make these necklaces with a map of West Hartford on them,” says Shara Reimer, as she stands next to her club partner, Weller Simmons. 

They’re a team from Hall High School while Victoria Pham and Becca Santos are students at Conard High School.  Lessons are far-reaching. 

“Becca’s laugh can light up the whole room, right Becca?” says Pham, as she hugs her new friend.

“I’ve been able to see that everyone has abilities and it just takes the right idea to bring them out and see how everyone can contribute in their own way,” says Reimer. 

Club members hope to help more students with disabilities graduate from high school with a work or education plan.  It’s an important conversation that these teens are proud to be a part of. 

“Hopefully this is just the start and it influences other businesses to hire people with disabilities,” says Pham.

The after-school club includes members from both Hall and Conard High Schools.  Products are carried at Blaze and Bloom in West Hartford center and are also sold online.  Click here for more information.