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Young adults with disabilities help out at Downtown market

Students from the Adult Transition Center gain experience working at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market
Ren Watkins working at the bakery at JGDM
Posted at 1:59 PM, Mar 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-23 16:59:50-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market had a little extra help Wednesday March 20. It's all thanks to Sunnyside Unified School District's Adult Transition Center, or ATC.

The ATC helps young adults with disabilities transition into adulthood after high school by teaching them skills to help them live and work independently. Students can stay in this program until they turn 22 years old.

Three students went to Johnny Gibson's on this trip. They took the city bus downtown, navigating public transportation with the help of a printed map.

When they arrived, each student took on a different role: one as a line cook, one as a cashier and one as a baker.

Ren Watkins worked in the bakery section. He cut over 60 slices of cake and baked multiple batches of cookies under the guidance of Johnny Gibson's employee Christina Armenta-Jimenez.

She said that having Ren was a big help.

"Ren said he wants to come apply for a job next year over here and he wants to try for bakery," she said. "He got the hang of it really fast. Once I showed him once, he took over. He knew what he was doing. I just put my hands up and I stood there and he ended up doing my job."

Ren will be graduating from the program in May and told KGUN he hopes to work at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market after.

Alex Dowd is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9, where her work combines her two favorite hobbies: talking to new people and learning about the community around her. Her goal is to eventually meet every single person in Tucson. Share your story ideas with Alex via email,, or connecting on Instagram or X.