TRIDENT students participated in a talent show to showcase their skills.

High 5 Inc.’s TRIDENT program hosted its annual talent show to showcase the skills of the program’s students.

TRIDENT, or Training and Recreational for the Intellectually Disabled Enhancing their Natural Talents, hosted the holiday show on December 15, 2023, for around 150 community members.

“Going into the holidays, our students, they’re like everybody else. They want to perform. They want to show off their skills,” TRIDENT director Joe Somers.

Somers said the show gave the 24 participants the opportunity to do just that: perform. He said future shows will be more than just singing. Students will be responsible for creating their own costumes, sets and props to include a wider variety of talents.

The annual holiday show is just one of the events hosted by TRIDENT for students to gain and showcase their skills.

Since Somers took over the program in April 2022, he has emphasized independence for students in the program. He said his approach is to encourage students and offer them assistance when needed.

For example, he said TRIDENT students will play an active role in planning and executing a potential walkathon fundraiser event this spring to support the program.

“We have a lot of ideas that we haven’t finalized. … That’s one of the things we are trying to teach [the students], that ‘Hey, it’s great to have ideas, but let’s talk through the process of what it’s going to take,’” Somers said.

By giving students a hands-on role in the planning process, Somers helps students gain the key planning and management skills they need.

“What our program mostly focuses on, or we try to focus on, is day-to-day life skills and helping them to improve their independence or gain more independence,” he said. “… It gives them that sense of independence and responsibility.”

Somers also said TRIDENT will host cooking classes this year. While family members of the students had concerns about the risks associated with cooking, TRIDENT developed a way to teach students to cook for themselves using microwaves and other lower-risk appliances.

Students will continue to learn important skills, such as creating a budget, using computer programs and hands-on workforce development, through the day and after-school programs available.

TRIDENT is also earning its Agency for Persons with Disabilities provider status early this year. The status will allow it to accept Medicaid and Medicare for students hoping to join the program.

For more information on the opportunities created for students through the TRIDENT program, visit

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.