Rockland BOCES unveils ‘Safety City’ on main campus in Nyack
Some Rockland County students have found themselves on the cutting edge of special education with a new program the Hudson Valley has not seen before.
Rockland BOCES unveiled a special instructional house and a miniature city where students with disabilities will be doing a lot of their learning.
The tiny city on the edge of campus, known as 'Safety City,' will help students learn to order food, run errands and cross the street.
Safety City includes storefronts for banks, a town hall and a restaurant.
It also has a main drag with a crosswalk and traffic light to teach students how and when to cross the street.
Joseph Simon said he is excited to begin his classes at Safety City and at the student house just across the parking lot, where Simon will learn to "wash dishes, wash my clothes" and cook his favorite meal, macaroni and cheese.
The student house includes a full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and washer and dryer.
Each section of the house brings a new lesson.
Jonathan Chogllo seems to have a solid handle on cleaning, and he is working on the other chores.
"I use the mop, and I clean on the walls," Chogllo said.
"Wow. Are you going to cook anything?" a teacher asked him.
"No," Chogllo replied. "Only my mom cooks."
But Chogllo was already beginning to master the kitchen Tuesday, putting his sports drink in the refrigerator.
The tiny city and the instructional house are part of a revitalization of Rockland Boces' campus that began six years ago.
They were funded in part by a state grant worth $125,000, secured by now-former State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick.
Much of the construction was done by high school students in the BOCES construction trades program.
The highschoolers said the project was special to them because it brought them closer to one another and because it made them more sensitive to students with disabilities.
"It helped us realize what the differences are that we have and the options we have," construction trades student Logan Spence said, "and helped us learn the little parts of what we had to do to help others."
The special education teachers at Tuesday's unveiling said the little town and fully equipped house are meant to teach students to do more than just stay safe out in the community and to learn to help around the house.
They said the town and the house will help increase the students' independence and make them great candidates for jobs at local nonprofits.
BOCES officials estimate there are less than 30 tiny instructional cities like Safety City in the nation.
Other communities that offer the same experimental teaching environments include:
- Baltimore, MD
- Brookhaven, NY
- Frisco, TX
- Naperville, IL.