MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The city of Memphis unveiled a new effort to provide valuable services to citizens. A program launched Tuesday aims to provide skill training to the youngest of them with special needs.

Director of the Office of Youth Services, Ike Griffith says equipping young students with disabilities is not all fun and games.

“We want to make sure we empower all children. We want to reach out to children with disabilities because so many of them feel left out of the equation.”

Students like Teykyla Branscomb, who are hearing impaired from White Station High School, will be the first in the “I Am Included” pilot program.

“It’s actually really good for me to be involved so I can think more about my future and things like that,” said Branscomb.

To provide a foundation for her future, the city of Memphis, along with Bridges West for the Hearing Impaired, kicked off an initiative that allows young people between the ages of 14 to 18 opportunities for life-skill training, professional development, and workforce preparation.

“It’s a real urgency for a parent to see that that child is on the right track of being independent despite that disability,” said Griffith.

Leah Williamson’s middle school aged son is hearing-impaired and says she supports any program that supports disabled youth.

“My son didn’t get the same, full experience of the city that his typical peers get,” said Williamson. “Making sure that he really does get to work a job in high school and socialize with his friends.”

The program is starting with about 20 deaf or hard of hearing students and with plans to grow to serve others with special needs.