Kyra and Nicolas

Gaining work experience through the Highschool Transition Program

On the first Thursday of November, Nicolas put on a nametag and apron for his first work experience shift at the Fairway Market on Shelbourne Street. The following Tuesday, Kyra kicked off her work experience term at the Market on Yates with the comment, “I work hard so I can get the job done.”

Kyra and Nicolas were part of the High School Transition Pilot Program developed by Garth Homer Society (GHS) and Oak Bay High. The experiential learning program provided special needs students with opportunities to develop employment skills and learn about future personal development options.

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning through November and December, Nicolas interacted with Fairway customers as he bagged their grocery items. He made sure he took his breaks on time by learning to read the analog clock in the break room and he put a smile on everyone’s face when he tried out a few dance steps while sweeping the store floors.

A key goal of the pilot program was to identify and build on students’ strengths to help with future employment and learning opportunities. Research indicates that for young people with challenges, having some employment experience before graduation is associated with future success in the workplace. Kyra took on the duties of a front store service clerk and can now add time management, punctuality and prioritizing to her list of workplace skills.

Thanks to pilot program funding from Coast Capital Savings and the Telus Community Board, 10 special needs students from Oak Bay High gained valuable employment experience over the 2012–2013 school year. The Vancouver Foundation also committed funding to help GHS expand the pilot program to Saanich schools in 2013.

A life, a home, and a place in the world