A “forklift rodeo” may sound like
another offbeat spectator sport, but there’s a serious mission
behind Wednesday’s event at Woodrow
Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) in Fishersville.
It’s all about showcasing job skills. NBC’s 20 Ken Slack live with the
details on that. Hi Ken. Well Hi there Sharon. Woodrow Wilson welcomes people from all over Virginia
overcoming a disability caused by accident or illness.
The center’s mission is to help them build independence. Rehabilitation
and adaptive technology help three-quarters of their clients return to the workforce. Running an industrial forklift for
hours on end sounds like the dream job for Nick Allen. “I wanted to stay out here and
practice the whole entire day, nonstop. I really enjoy driving forklifts,” said Allen. Allen is among six competitors
at the Wilson Rehab Center’s Forklift Rodeo. The orange and lemon teams put their
skills to the test in a relay race. They move pallets of product, maneuver around cones and even
drive backward to simulate a day in the workplace. “We work with business and industry
to find out what they need to see on the job,
and we bring that to the classroom. So we’re teaching exactly what they need in order to go
out and get an entry-level job as a forklift operator,” said Rick Sizemore, WWRC director.
The forklift program gives the students nine weeks of training, so they are ready to be certified as soon
as they graduate. For Thurston Hickman of Front Royal, that’s
just a few weeks away. “When I go home sometime in May, I’m going to get a job.
That’s what I’m hoping for. My main goal is
getting a job and supporting myself.” WWRC had just one forklift
– and a waiting list for clients wanting to train with it, so Dominion Virginia Power donated a
second one and believes that could make a statewide impact. “In training them on the skills and getting
them OSHA-certified,then they’re ready to go be employed and get a skill. Then if they go back home
anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they have on their resume to be permanently employed,” said
Dominion Virginia Power representative Emmett Toms. Dominion Virginia Power representative Emmett Toms.
Toms also serves on the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. He tells us forklift drivers are always in demand, partly because of the sheer number of
distribution centers in the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia. It’s amazing the kind of work that they do at
that rehab center there. Ken Slack live in our Augusta County newsroom.
Good Night Ken. Thank you.