Go ahead and tell 18-year-old Cape Henlopen High School students Zachary Simpler and Thomas Gustafson they can't do something simply because society classifies them as "disabled."
These two determined young men welcome the chance to prove you wrong, and their participation in a recent internship program will likely bolster their efforts.
Provided via a partnership between the Cape Henlopen School District and a handful of local businesses, including the Oldfather Group, the summertime program is geared toward career exploration for special education students in the district.
The program has been in existence since the early 2000s and offers non-paid internship positions for students between the ages of 14 and 21.
"Both young men's parents wanted them to have some work experience, but they weren't able to gain any during the school year. This program helped fill that need for them," says Margaret Haas, the transition specialist at Cape Henlopen who's in charge of the program. "They're going into the 'real world' after college, so this type of experience is really important."
Like most young people saddled with the stigma of being "learning disabled," the two members of the Cape Henlopen High School Class of 2019 simply wanted an opportunity to show what they could do.
When they finally got that chance this summer, they certainly didn't squander it.
"Zach and Thomas (pictured below) are really a good team and they bring out the best in each other," says Haas. "This opportunity they had will definitely help them in the future and it also looks great on their resumes. They said they had a great time too, so that's also important."
Both interested in the field of video production, Zachary and Thomas were partnered up this summer with Jordan Gibson, the director of creative content for the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty.
What happened next, over the course of several weeks, was something special.
"Zach and Thomas have an extreme passion for the field of video and it's encouraging to see such a high level of interest and engagement taking place while they're still in high school," says Gibson, who handles all video content for the Rehoboth Beach-based real estate firm. "I'm confident they'll do well in their future endeavors and I'm grateful that I was able to take part in this program with them."
The project for the summer was to develop a special video promoting the historic Milton Theater, while hoping to recruit donors for an ambitious revitalization campaign that's starting to take shape.
The end result was a nearly three minute video that both young men can and will be proud of for some time to come. Take a look below and see for yourself...
The Oldfather Group has a history of supporting worthwhile local charities, many chosen based on the interests and experiences of the firm's constantly growing team of agents and employees.
This one, however, was chosen simply because Gibson was asked to help out. He was quickly given the green light to do so from the Oldfather Group's management team.
"Jordan definitely did an excellent job, showing patience and offering suggestions in a very positive manner," says Haas. "He's young enough that he had a good bond with the guys, and he gave them constructive criticism that was handed out in an effortless and natural way.
"I really can't say enough about Jordan. It was just a real pleasure to work with him."
From left, Thomas Gustafson, Cape Henlopen School District Paraprofessional Justin Marino and Zachary Simpler
The program has concluded for the Summer of 2018, but Haas has already expressed a desire for additional placements in the future.
The Oldfather Group was founded in 2004 and specializes in real estate sales throughout coastal Delaware, including Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, as well as the coastal Maryland towns of Ocean City and Berlin and now northern New Castle County and parts of eastern Pennsylvania.