Denise has mild Cerebral Palsy (new window) which affects her balance and causes limping. She walks on her heels and suffers regular stiffness and pain in the lower back, preventing her from being in one position for extended periods of time. Following a period of unsuccessful job searching and resulting financial pressures, depression also became an issue.
Denise graduated from Killarney Secondary School (new window) and more recently obtained her Medical Office Assistant Diploma. She also completed the Neil Squire Society’s Youth Enabled Program, an employment program for youth with physical disabilities that helps participants make a successful transition into the labour force. In particular, Denise improved her computer competency, her presentation and interviewing skills.
Denise heard from the Youth Enabled staff that the Neil Squire Society (new window) was delivering a program called Working Together. She felt she was ready to join the working world and wanted to keep her mind and body busy to ward off depression which she had faced in the past. She didn’t want her disability to keep her from working and saw this as an opportunity to address the unemployment and financial issues she was facing.
Denise joined the Working Together Program in October 2013, meeting with a Case Manager, where she began her journey to employment. Following the development of an Action Plan she started working with a Job Developer where she was provided with, and learned how to use, various job searching tools. She was shown how to target administrative roles in various employment sectors, developed stronger interviewing skills, and learned the importance of using cold calling scripts. The Job Developer and Denise met on a regular basis which helped to keep her motivated, focused and engaged in her journey. Throughout this time, the Job Developer was also targeting employers on Denise’s behalf and bringing the wage subsidy piece of the program to their attention. Denise knew that if she could only get her foot in the door, she would prove her value. The Job Developer knew that the wage subsidy could open that door.
Numerous employers were contacted, and then this past March the Job Developer arranged for Denise to meet with the Burnaby Neighbourhood House (new window). She was interviewed and was able to present her skills effectively with an employer that was able see her ability and not focus on her disability. She was offered employment, which she gladly accepted. Denise has told us that she feels her life now has purpose and meaning, and that she is truly grateful for the opportunity, that not only the Neil Squire Society has given her, but also that the Burnaby Neighbourhood House (new window) has given her.