Riverside, Calif. – Our city takes pride in the inclusive initiatives that uplift and support our diverse community. One such remarkable endeavor is the Mock-CVS Pharmacy store, providing invaluable opportunities for students with disabilities to develop essential life and work skills. Generously donated by CVS Health, this career skills lab has recently undergone renovations, making it better than ever before.
Nestled within the Riverside Unified School District, this store may resemble a typical CVS Pharmacy at first glance. However, the young individuals diligently scanning items and restocking shelves are not your ordinary employees. They are students and young adults with disabilities who engage in real hands-on experience within this mock store, honing their talents and building confidence.
Laura Williams, an esteemed teacher at RUSD, expressed her admiration for the transformative impact of this space, stating, “The experience gained here gives them a remarkable edge over the competition, leaving them better prepared and ready to excel in their future careers. Witnessing their growth, both in terms of confidence and understanding the intricacies of working in a retail setting, is truly phenomenal.”
During an interview with Eyewitness News, one of the students, who also holds a part-time job at a local café, shared her journey. She highlighted the lab’s significance in practicing skills that she still finds challenging, such as money management and job responsibilities. “I genuinely enjoy working and strive to learn and grow. This opportunity allows me to work hard and foster my independence,” she proudly stated.
While most products in the lab serve as demonstrations, there are also unique handmade items crafted by talented Riverside students available for purchase. The attention to detail extends beyond the shelves, as Trang Malone, Workforce Initiatives Manager for CVS Health, explains, “We meticulously constructed everything, from the shelving to the checkout counters, and ensured the store reflects an authentic retail environment. We even incorporated signage from local CVS stores, lending an unmistakable touch of realism.” Additionally, mock job interviews are conducted to prepare students for future employment prospects.
Since its inception, the lab has welcomed and positively impacted over 850 individuals, and it aspires to continue serving our community for years to come. Together, with the unwavering support of CVS Health, Riverside celebrates the triumph of inclusivity and the pursuit of equal opportunities.