Training Program Helps Teach Skills To People With Disabilities

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - A training program that started in Roanoke is now helping people with disabilities in the New River Valley to gain life skills to help them succeed.


A Roanoke city police officer started the Growth Through Opportunity program in 2014. The program not only teaches people with disabilities life, job and social skills, it also offers disabilities training for first responders.


"Through this, we're getting the training, we're getting to know the individuals in our community and their families so they're getting comfortable with us," said Captain Kim Haug with the Montgomery County Jail.


On Wednesday, GTO's New River Valley program celebrated its second group of cadets.


The five adults will have an opportunity to visit different police and fire departments in Montgomery County as a part of their 16-week training. They will also volunteer in the community.


Erica Bookout, who graduated from GTO NRV last year, is now working at Obis One, LLC in Blacksburg and is using the skills she learned through GTO. Obis One makes organic black garlic products.


"The program is important to show the community that people with disabilities are able to go out in the community and work part-time, full-time, whatever job they want to do," Bookout said.


Those who have been involved with the program and have seen how beneficial it can be said the type of training GTO provides is valuable. 


“The more programs you have like that, the more success you’re going to have," said Patrick Lloyd, founder of Obis One.