By Kristy Strauss –
The Kitchissippi community has welcomed with open arms a very important program, according to Holly Martin.
Martin is a placement and job coach co-ordinator with WAVE (Work and Volunteer Experience) Ottawa – a program founded and run by the Dovercourt Recreation Association. The program helps adults with autism find work and volunteer experience in the community. It also raises awareness of the potential of adults with autism.
WAVE participants were at the recreation centre on October 3 for a bake sale to raise money for the program.
“(The Kitchissippi community) has been beyond helpful,” says Martin. “I think the community is a huge aspect of the program. A lot of the people who access Dovercourt are from Kitchissippi, and their attitude towards us so positive. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive.”
The program started earlieFailed to write file to disk.r this spring at the recreation centre, and currently has 22 apprentices working or volunteering in various jobs across the city – from working with children, to working in a flower shop.
Martin connects the apprentices to their job of choice, and helps them learn skills that will benefit them in the workplace. She adds that the program has been a huge success so far, and apprentices have been doing a fabulous job in their placements.
“It’s really interesting to see the relationships they end up forming (with employers),” says Martin. “Their work is just as valuable as anyone else’s, and they all have a great work ethic.”
John Rapp, executive director of Dovercourt, says the program is a first venture into a new area for the recreation centre. He says Dovercourt was approached by a small group of parents that were seeking a program that would help adults with autism develop job skills – and, help them find employment and have greater autonomy.
“While Dovercourt has hosted supported workers with developmental difficulties from a number of agencies in our work force for over 20 years, this was our first venture into doing the recruitment, training, and placement of people ourselves,” Rapp says. ”We have been able to get some great staff with expertise and enthusiasm to lead it . . . it is amazing what you can do when your attitude is to just say yes.”
He adds that Dovercourt is motivated by an important issue parents brought forward – that there is a significant gap in service for adults with developmental disabilities.
“They are left to fend largely for themselves,” says Rapp. “The greatest issue for parents is who will look after their now adult children when they are gone. This program is, on our small community scale, part of the answer to that issue.”
For more information about WAVE, visit waveottawa.ca.