Adults with Developmental Disabilities Prepare to Enter Workforce

Dale and Sandra Foreman with valedictorian Katie Foreman (centre)
Dale and Sandra Foreman with valedictorian Katie Foreman (centre)

“I was a lost girl with no luck finding a job,” Katie Foreman said at the start of her valedictory speech at the graduation celebration for the Transitional Vocational Program’s Employment Preparation Program  on September 22.

Katie went on to describe how her classes in the Transitional Vocational Program helped her gain the skills and confidence she needed to secure work placements, first with Shoppers Drug Mart and now with AMEC Labs, an engineering company where she does soil testing.

Katie’s good grades, excellent attendance and improvement in the workplace led to her selection as valedictorian by TVP staff.

“Katie was able to stay in residence during the course,” said her mother, Sandra Foreman. “She took the Eating Right, Living Right course and learned about nutrition and how to cook for herself.”

Sandra and husband Dale are proud of the increased confidence and independence Katie achieved – accomplishments shared by virtually all of her fellow grads.

Twenty students are graduating from the year-long Employment Preparation Program. They will receive their certificates at Mount Royal University’s November convocation.

Students and their families and friends celebrated with program and university administrators at a brunch on September 22.

Video congratulations from Mayor Naheed Nenshi were well received by the students, staff, family and friends. Highlights of each student’s achievements were presented by the program’s Employment Specialists.

Ricky Jones and Connor Demers were both presented with the Robert Hunter Award, a scholarship that recognizes leadership in the classroom. Kirandeep Brar received the Greatest Improvement Award.

Ricky Jones with Program Administrator Craig Baskett.
Ricky Jones with TVP Program Administrator Craig Baskett
Connor Demers with Program Administrator Craig Baskett
Connor Demers with Craig Baskett

“You have to change your world for the better,” said Ricky.

Kirandeep Brar with Craig Baskett
Kirandeep Brar with Craig Baskett

Employment Preparation classes ready the students for work placements ranging from retail associate to warehouse worker, office assistant to mechanic. Some students worked at pet stores, some at child care centres and some at retirement homes. Several were hired after their work placement contracts were completed, allowing them to enter the workforce officially.

Joshua Luyendyk graduated at the end of August from the Employment Assistance Program, an optional second-year program that continues to support students as they enter the workforce.

Joshua is a warehouse associate at Home Sense at Market Mall and recently was voted Employee of the Quarter by his peers. Joshua’s duties include processing shipments, building furniture and lamps, hanging rugs, and helping customers take purchases to their cars. Joshua travels to his job by bus from his group home in Brentwood.

Home Sense Store Manager Bruce Beingesser with Employee of the Quarter Joshua Luyendyk.
Home Sense Store Manager Bruce Beingesser with Employee of the Quarter Joshua Luyendyk, TVP graduate

“I won because I am a good worker,” said Joshua, an opinion that was shared by Bruce Beingessner, Store Manager.

“Joshua exhibits pretty much every one of our core values,” said Bruce. “He has a positive attitude, is a hard worker, gets along with his peers well and is always willing to help.”

For further insight into the TVP program, here is a blog post by Paul Sawka, Awareness Leader of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, about his learning experiences.

by Karen McCarthy

What Students Ask Us About

Eleanor and Kathy are here to help.
Eleanor and Kathy are here to help.

Ah, September. There’s a hint of autumn in the air, a sense of new beginnings. Many adults have caught the back-to-school bug and are registered to take continuing education classes.

Our friendly Reception staff, Eleanor and Kathy, share the most common questions they field at the front desk.

Q. How do I find my classroom?

A. Kind of important to know for your first class! Your classroom location (and other info you need for your first class) is on your Confirmation of Registration letter or Student Schedule/Bill. If you register by phone, it will be mailed to you if there is sufficient time before your first class. If you register online, you should print your Student Schedule/Bill once your payment has gone through. No receipt or confirmation e-mail is sent by the online system.

You can also find this information at any time via MyMRU. Log in – you’ll have to set up your account the first time – click on the Student Resources tab, go to the Student Online Resources box at the top left and click on Registration. Then click on Student Schedule/Bill and follow the prompts.

The receptionist on the main floor or the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning can also direct you if your class is in that building, as many Continuing Education classes are.

Unfortunately Eleanor and Kathy can’t give you this info over the phone due to privacy regulations.

Q. Where can I park? Can I buy a permit instead of daily tickets?

A. Here’s a parking map. Check the Parking website for up-to-date parking information. Here’s info on evening/weekend permits ($25 per month).

Q. I’m registered in a course but it’s not showing on the Blackboard course site and/or I don’t see my materials.

A. Courses/materials are usually uploaded to Blackboard a few days to a week before the course start date in order to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available.

You will be sent a welcome e-mail when the course is available on Blackboard. Here’s some info on getting started.

Q. I need to buy textbooks but I don’t want to make a special trip. Can I buy them the day of my class?

A. You can order your materials through the BookStore online. If you prefer to shop in person, here are the BookStore hours. They usually have rush hours at the beginning of the semester.

Q. I need to get hold of my instructor but they’re not responding.

A. Make sure you are using your instructor’s preferred contact method. If you don’t hear from them, contact your Program Assistant or Student Program Liaison – their contact info is included in your Registration Confirmation letter / Student Schedule/Bill. You can also contact Eleanor and Kathy and they will make sure you get to the correct person. Call 403.440.6875 during office hours or e-mail

Q. How do I receive my certificate?

A. When you’ve completed all your course requirements (congratulations!) fill out an application form to receive the appropriate credential. You can send the completed form by mail, fax, e-mail or in person. More info here.

More questions and answers are on our FAQ web page.
Here’s a Welcome Guide specifically for Continuing Education.

Got a question that hasn’t been answered? Leave it in the comment section.

by Karen McCarthy with files from Eleanor Leach & Kathy Chyla