Three Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD students have been selected to attend the 2019 New York City Buddy Walk.
Gabriela Vasquez, Jailen Guajardo and Nahitza Hurtado were selected to attend the annual event which honors and celebrates individuals with down syndrome from communities across the country. This year’s event will be the 25th annual.
The three students are currently enrolled at PSJA Pathways Toward Independence Program (PSJA PTI). A news release explained the school promotes the continued development of vocational training skills and functional independent living skills to assist special needs students ages 14 to 21 in becoming emergent adults in the community.
The news release goes on to explain the teens submitted a photo of their high school graduation to the National Down Syndrome Society’s Time Square Video Contest. The contest highlights individuals with down syndrome. A photo of the teens featuring them in their cap and gowns was selected from more than 3,000 entries.
“We are so excited and happy for them,” said Elsa Cortina, mother of Nahitza, in the news release. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Cortina explained the three girls enrolled in the PSJA PTI program after graduating from the McAllen and Sharyland school districts and learning about the opportunities available through the PSJA PTI program.
The news release explained that through partnerships with South Texas College, students in the PSJA PTI program can earn Continuing Education Certificates in Employability Skills, Basic Floral Design, Basic Cake Decorating and Basic Photography as well as intern at local businesses.
“We loved what the PSJA district offers for students,” said Cortina in the news release. “Nahitza is learning to be independent, going to different job sites, and she’s even learning how to cook!”
PSJA PTI director Veronica Quintana said that knowing her students will be representing their district and the Valley is an honor.
“We are so excited to have them be a part of our PSJA Family,” said Quintana in the news release. “We can’t wait to see what they are going to become.”
The news release explained that the PSJA PTI program has accepted more than 20 new students this school year after they graduated from neighboring school districts.
The 25th Annual New York City Buddy Walk is scheduled for Saturday, Sep. 14th.