#DEAM - Journey to Employment
12 Oct 2017
POSTED BY: Admin | Comments: 0

As we celebrate Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) this October, we are highlighting  unique employment success stories that have come out of the amazing employment programs in the province. Weyburn Wor-Kin Shop and Midale School have been working together over the last few months to transition students into the work force as one of this year’s new Supported Employment Transition Initiative (SETI) projects. We chatted with Cathy Harvey, an Educator at Midale School, Chantal Rasmuson, Employment Consultant for the project, and Andria Brady, Executive Director at Weyburn Wor-Kin Shop to hear more about how this partnership has been working, and learn about one particular success story!


Can you provide some background on the supported employment program at Weyburn Wor-Kin Shop and Midale School?

Cathy Harvey: As an educator in the K-12 system, one of the roles we play is to support all of our students as they transition out of school and into the work force. This is a very critical life transition for most students that is often more difficult for students with challenges.  Unfortunately, due to a lack of human resources, many of the students that we work with that require additional support as they transition into the work force, do not receive it until after they leave school – and then, only if they qualify for these supports or are deemed to be priority. Without the assistance of the school team to negotiate the system and advocate on their behalf, many of these students don’t ever realize their life potential.

Through the SETI funding received, our team is able to provide the necessary employment transition supports to students before, during and after they have left the K-12 system allowing them a greater rate of employment success and an increased sense of self.  In the short time that our project has been in place, we have been able to reach out to and support students and families that did not have access to or were denied services currently in existence within our area. In addition, our project has been able to create local employment opportunities and to educate and build connections with potential employers.  We look forward to continuing to explore future growth and development of this program.

Andria Brady: We at Weyburn Wor-Kin Shop are excited to develop and explore this new relationship with the school in Midale. This experience has given the students and their families in and around Midale the opportunity to learn about our organization and how our services and supports can assist individuals in their post education life.  The awareness that has been generated within the Midale area alone with regards to persons experiencing a disability has been overwhelming.

Furthermore, our jobseekers employment journey starts with assessments of skills, interests and then enhancing those skills to work competitively in the community.  We do not ask employers to create positions in their businesses, we believe in “real life” work for real pay.  If our client is unavailable for work due to illness or scheduled appointment the employer would need to bring in another employee to fill the position. 


Do you have an example of an individual that has seen success from this program?

Chantal Rasmuson: We have one student that is currently in Grade 12, who has overcome many obstacles and challenges in her life to bring her where she is today.  Growing up with her grandparents on the family farm, she is used to hard work and long hours.  When things are of interest to her, she is self-motivated and driven to succeed.  She has transformed herself from a shy and quiet young lady to an individual that is not afraid to try new things and advocate for herself.  Her experiences working within the employment program have helped her to gain a new sense of self-worth and the confidence to try new things. 


What steps did she take in order to successfully gain employment?

Chantal Rasmuson: When we started working with this student, we went through the usual intake process.  Together we started by working through several discovery assessments to help this student realize her own skills and abilities (something that was critical because up until this point, she did not see all of her talents or preferences!). Once these assessments were complete and we had an idea of the direction we were going.  We revamped her resume and cover letters.  She wanted to work in communities outside Midale so we began our job search in the areas surrounding Midale.  Together, we completed a community cruise and started applying for jobs in the surrounding communities.  After seeing some of the opportunities, this student decided she wanted to work at a hotel in Weyburn – a choice that no one had thought about until after her initial interview, assessments and scan of job possibilities. After working closely with the employer to help them to understand the benefits of hiring students from our program and a discussion of possibilities for paid employment within their business, the hotel was on board and hired her to not only clean rooms, but also to work on lawn care--  something she was particularly interested in.  Not only did this peak this student’s interest, it filled a need for the employer and allowed them to provide the student with additional employment hours.


What were some of the challenges that this individual faced?

Chantal Rasmuson: She did run into some challenges. After employment was secured the job turned out to be harder than she had anticipated. She enjoyed the outside work but not cleaning rooms, which was the majority of the job.  The student decided in the end to resign from the job, the hotel wished her the best and was disappointed she was leaving. Reflecting on this particular situation and others that have been similar, our team felt that having job coaches to work with the students as they entered new positions as additional support for them would be greatly beneficial.

Once the resignation was tendered, she still wanted to work but she decided she wanted to work outside only.  There was a position available on a fence building crew.  She applied and was successful in obtaining the position. She worked with the fencing company until just recently when she was laid off due to it being the end of the season.  The experience and the confidence she has gained has led her to another opportunity within our community at a local dairy. In her assessments, it was noted that this student loved the outdoors and animals. Working at a dairy farm, therefore, seemed to be a perfect fit! The student is now employed at the dairy farm and is also attending high school. The dairy farm milks three times per day and has shifts so this works well with her schedule.


What are some of the outcomes in this individual’s life that have come as a result of her employment?

Chantal Rasmuson: Each experience has provided valuable information on her journey to self-discovery and this has led to amazing personal growth.  Her confidence and willingness to express herself has grown two-fold.  It is truly wonderful to see a young person thrive and grow like she has. This experience and her desire to be a hard worker willing to try new things will surely assist her in being a sought after employee beyond her school years.

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