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