A fundamental key to creating independence for people with disabilities is the development of essential life skills, among them, employment training and support. The Employment Training and Support Program (ETS)—in conjunction with the Customized Employment Program, which assists people with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining community employment—expands choices for people with developmental disabilities by fostering independence through the cultivation of feelings of productivity, value, and enjoyment in doing meaningful work.
Under a supervisor’s direction, people with developmental disabilities are offered support and taught basic employment skills such as hygiene and attendance, and enterprise skills such as: making candles, cards, scents and soaps; catering and food services; janitorial services and training; lawn and ground maintenance; and packaging and assembly work. The ETS Program endeavours to match skill sets with individual preferences by offering a choice of self-directed activities, thereby building confidence.
By also encouraging participants to try new things, the Program facilitates unique life experiences that offer many opportunities for personal growth and for participants to fulfill their potential. Some participants manufacture head bands, name tags, bracelets, or cards that they sell through the ETS store or learn to market themselves. Craig Muirhead has a DJ business that is in demand for local dances, and Amanda Hart (see her story in this issue) is now gainfully employed in administration doing filing, mailing, sorting, and recycling tasks. Janek Bajerski, an accomplished photographer, markets his products to retailers in White Rock/South Surrey and through his web site. The ETS Program also teaches participants how to take the bus to their training site which provides opportunities for personal growth and valuable person-centered experiences.
There are many positive outcomes of the ETS program, among them, participants benefit from increased responsibility—both to themselves and the community. The ability to contribute and give back to the community promotes a sense of pride and self-worth, giving participants the confidence they need to take on new challenges. But foremost, the ETS program cultivates autonomy and self-sufficiency—ultimately giving participants something of tremendous value—their independence.
By Yvette Plante, Volunteer Writer
Founder of Wise Writing Services
Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community.
The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.