Original Published on Sep 02, 2022 at 08:27

By Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Lethbridge Family Services and its DaCapo Disability Services  Department is launching a new program aimed at getting adults with  developmental disabilities into the workforce.

 Reaching  Independence through Skills and Employment, or RISE, will be a 10-month  employment skills-centered certificate program for adults with  disabilities training them in two separate methods of in-class learning  and work experience practicums.

 The approach will provide  participants in Lethbridge and area with opportunities to advance their  personal development while building knowledge and skills to prepare them  for the local labour market.

 “It will be held at the YMCA,  starting off there will be a three day in-class training followed by two  days’ work experience in the community,” said Jennifer van Der Kooij,  program development coordinator for Family Services. “We had an  indication of over 500 individuals that could be eligible for such a  program in this area. That is why we connected with Advanced Ed, and  also four other transitional vocational programs in Alberta to determine  how they work and what works best for them.”

 The program will  have 20 seats available with a start date on Jan. 9, 2023, and another  in September. For January, applications are now open online at  lfsfamily.ca. Applicants are required to be 18 or older at the time of  the program’s start date, be diagnosed with a developmental disability,  ready and willing to be able to work, and capable of using public  transit or have another way of transportation.

 “For individuals  with disabilities, this will help them become independent. Allowing them  to build more confidence and be able to maintain employment,  competitive employment, in our community. Not only that but to be able  to have a rapport with the individuals in their class and workforce,”  said van Der Kooij. “Individuals will also have opportunities to  complete First Aid training, WHMIS training, and health and safety  training.”

 Starting in entry level job opportunities here in  Lethbridge, participants who are eligible for the program can also apply  for Foundational Learning Assistance Program Grants.

 “Being  awarded this opportunity fits perfectly in the philosophy of Lethbridge  Family Services. Particularly with the capital we have, we work with  people with developmental disabilities but we also have programs where  we are aware of the individuals that really don’t fit in those areas,”  said Lynette Taal, program manager for Lethbridge Family Services. “It’s  a great opportunity for those individuals to learn employment skills  and be contributing members of society and get a little help along the  way.”

 “Work provides so much more than just a wage. Many of us  love our jobs, and it’s a great opportunity to have a support network,  to have coworkers that you can become friends with afterwards,” said  Taal. “It offers a peace of mind when you can have some money to pay  your rent and buy groceries. Independence is huge and we all want that.”

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta