Vanessa was finishing up her first year in her Associate of Arts program when she began looking for a summer job. This brought her to the Neil Squire Society’s Working Together Program in Penticton. “My goals were to be able to help other people and have them feel accomplished. I am always in a helping mood and want to be able to help others.”
Vanessa is diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (opens in a new window) (FASD). It affects her daily life in terms of recalling memory and difficulty in remembering everything she needs to do, especially if given too many tasks. She also has trouble with learning new things if they are not visually explained.
With the help of Working Together, Vanessa landed a job at the Footprints Centre (opens in a new window) as an Education Assistant. Since her eventual goal is to become a teacher or counsellor, this role was the perfect fit.
The Penticton Indian Band (opens in a new window) has been a partner of the Neil Squire Society since 2006. It offers a variety of programming out of the Footprints Centre, a cosy log building. This includes an online class, workshops, and weekly Wellness Wednesdays, among other programs.
Vanessa helps people with disabilities use their phones, tablets, and computers. This has involved activities such as helping people use apps and downloading software to computers. She has had the experience of working with clients one-on-one, as well as planning a luncheon for graduates and leading a workshop.
Terry Terbasket, Program Coordinator, says, “Vanessa is very patient when teaching clients on the computer, cell phone, or tablet. She explains technology in a way that the client understands and so they can comprehend the information being taught. Her way of teaching is hands-on, guiding the client as they work on their device.”
Simple accommodations at work have been helping Vanessa make the best of her experience. She uses her cell phone to help herself remember upcoming tasks and meetings. An events calendar serves as a visual reminder. Other staff have a calendar with Vanessa’s appointments, and she is also reminded verbally.
Vanessa will continue this placement till the end of August, after which she will begin her second year of college. She says this job has given her “an experience to use towards my future goals with teaching.”
Terry says, “I would recommend the Working Together Program to other businesses. It not only builds the confidence, work experience, and skills of the student, but also helps the business out. It has helped our organization by offering technology learning to people who may never get the opportunity to learn new devices. We teach the clients who come to us and we in turn learn from them how to teach better and build a better helping toolbox. So for us, Working Together is a two-way street of educating the staff and student.”