For the past 25 years, Community Living Algoma has offered employment services for the people they support in their community. This summer, the association launched a summer employment program geared to transitional-aged youth.
Update Friday spoke with Kim Metzen, Manager of the Employment Support Program at Community Living Algoma. She says although the employment support program was well established, they “…never ventured into support for students.” That is, until recently.
The idea to provide job opportunities for young people was the result of an information session that Community Living Algoma co-hosted earlier this year.
“What really changed the outlook for Community Living Algoma was an information session hosted by PossAbility Community Homes, in partnership with Autism Ontario Sault Ste. Marie and Community Living Algoma [in January],” says Metzen.
The session featured guest speakers Mark Wafer and Joe Dale, who spoke about the benefits of employment programs and services for people with a disability, including youth.
Once the initial idea for the program was conceived, the team incorporated several elements from the Transitions to Employment Toolkits that were developed by Community Living Sarnia-Lambton, Community Living Chatham-Kent and Community Living Wallaceburg, which was featured in last week’s Update Friday. The toolkit includes resources to launch turnkey employment and job readiness programs for young people.
In February, Community Living Algoma submitted a grant proposal through the Canada Summer Jobs program to help offset the costs of launching their project.
“In May, it was confirmed that we would be receiving [funds to hire] three job coaches for the summer that would work with the selected students,” says Metzen.
Three students were selected to participate in the program. Community Living Algoma partnered with Root River Golf Club, Service Rentals and Northshore Tractor to offer the students jobs that totaled 30 hours a week for each person.
With the initial success of the pilot program, Community Living Algoma intends to involve a greater number of young people next year.
“One of our main areas going forward, based on the success of our summer employment program will be to focus on connecting with kids graduating from high school or college. We see this as the area having the greatest potential at this time,” says Metzen.
– Justin DePass