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Co-Op In Cherry Hill Helping Students With Autism, Other Developmental Disabilities Prepare For Working World

CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) -- A school in Camden County is helping students with Autism and other developmental disabilities prepare for the work world, and they are already succeeding in business.

The room is abuzz with the hum machines, etching metal cards, and embroidering shirts and more.

This is the Y.A.L.E. Vocational Skills Lab and Co-op in Cherry Hill. The room is set up like a professional workshop, but it's really a school.

It is a state-funded facility that trains students ages 18 to 21 with developmental disabilities for the job market. It's a first-of-its-kind training in the Delaware Valley and opened during the pandemic.

Noah McKay is the school-to-work supervisor.

"Our ultimate goal is to make sure that they get the skills they need to be successful," McKay said.

Connor Ware is a Y.A.L.E. student with Autism.

"I can work on machines like the mug press," Ware said.

He's also training on machines like the laser printer.

"It's very hard, but usually young ones have to learn these things," Ware said.

Andy McKay-Levine is another student participating in the vocational program and he loves silkscreening shirts.

"This is what it's gonna look like, now this shirt is done," McKay-Levine.

If you're wondering if it's a challenge, McKay-Levine has some advice.

"At first it's a little bit, but once you get the technique it's pretty easy," McKay-Levine said.

Y.A.L.E. isn't just a place to learn-- it's also a business!

The students take and fulfill orders from more than 20 businesses and organizations and get paid for it.

"I have to tell you that a lot of the businesses that we're in right now do hire our students," McKay said.

Some of the money also goes into maintaining the machines and replenishing supplies, so this workshop will keep on humming.

For more information about the co-op, click here.

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