Robbie has been a summer student at the Footprints Centre (opens in a new window), a cosy log cabin that is home to a number of programs offered by the Penticton Indian Band (opens in a new window) and the Neil Squire Society. Robbie has tutored clients one-on-one, planned a grad luncheon, and led six UpSkills (opens in a new window) workshops. He is going back to school this fall.
Robbie landed the position with the help of the Working Together Program, and he has been doing a fantastic job. Here is his story in his own words:
“The technical name of my disability is Autism Spectrum Disorder (opens in a new window), but to me it is a kind of persistent sensitivity. This sensitivity affects me both negatively and positively in varying areas of life, but I prefer to look at the positives.
“The negatives include me stressing out over describing the negatives, and then promptly getting stuck thinking about how to describe them. Try imagining feeling bad then dial that feeling up until it feels like you have been mentally kicked in the gut a couple times. The positives include seeing the world in a different way and being able to focus down and learn the things I really want to do. You never really know how beautiful the world is until you actually stop and look at it!
“I originally came to Footprints after wanting a break from college for a bit. I intend to go back in the fall to continue learning. I also volunteered occasionally at the local soupateria.
“I wanted to learn about anything I could. I found the information on computer programs (Word (opens in a new window), Excel (opens in a new window)) and shortcuts (such as pushing the Windows key and the arrow keys to instantly get two windows side by side) to be interesting as well as looking into psychology and other jobs.
“My job here at Footprints has been fairly entertaining so far. When I first started, I was entrusted with planting corn and gutting fish – I had a lot of fun that first week! However, this is far from the usual here at Footprints; the majority of work is with clients learning a degree of different material. Sometimes I am teaching someone how to use or navigate an electronic device. Other times I am doing presentations on soft skills while speaking to a small group.
“When I am not teaching, I am usually busy figuring something else out or cleaning up and maintaining the building, and occasionally, I get to go to meetings and listen in to societal dilemmas (cultural sensitivity, barriers for people with disabilities) that others wish to mitigate and solve.”
Terry Terbasket, Program Coordinator at the Footprints Centre, adds, “Robbie is very patient when teaching clients on the computer, cell phone or tablet. Robbie has assisted older learners how to research topics on the internet. His calming voice and choice of words when teaching reduces the technology anxiety of the client. Clients can pick up on his easygoing and patient personality, therefore making learning a positive experience.”
Robbie continues his story:
“When I first gave my resume to my employers (Mindy and Terry), pretty much all my experience on it was related to growing plants. The real accommodation here is that Mindy and Terry saw this and presumably wanted to make my job as comfortable and familiar as possible for me – having employers that actually care about you is huge to me! Even if I am somehow off the mark on this, I can still tell they both care just by the way they act and treat me, and that is what really matters!
“I now have more direction for the future than I did before as well as a job at Footprints. I want to learn more about psychology and sound engineering in the future, so I am going back to college with a good idea of what to invest in now.
“For anyone reading this, the world may be tough, but keep at it one step at a time. Don’t fade into darkness; reach for the sunlight and you too will grow just like the corn at Footprints!”