Lethbridge Family Services launches new disability services program

·2 min read

Lethbridge Family Services and its DaCapo Disability Services Department is launching a new program aimed at getting adults with developmental disabilities into the workforce.

Reaching Independence through Skills and Employment, or RISE, will be a 10-month employment skills-centered certificate program for adults with disabilities training them in two separate methods of in-class learning and work experience practicums.

The approach will provide participants in Lethbridge and area with opportunities to advance their personal development while building knowledge and skills to prepare them for the local labour market.

“It will be held at the YMCA, starting off there will be a three day in-class training followed by two days’ work experience in the community,” said Jennifer van Der Kooij, program development coordinator for Family Services. “We had an indication of over 500 individuals that could be eligible for such a program in this area. That is why we connected with Advanced Ed, and also four other transitional vocational programs in Alberta to determine how they work and what works best for them.”

The program will have 20 seats available with a start date on Jan. 9, 2023, and another in September. For January, applications are now open online at lfsfamily.ca. Applicants are required to be 18 or older at the time of the program’s start date, be diagnosed with a developmental disability, ready and willing to be able to work, and capable of using public transit or have another way of transportation.

“For individuals with disabilities, this will help them become independent. Allowing them to build more confidence and be able to maintain employment, competitive employment, in our community. Not only that but to be able to have a rapport with the individuals in their class and workforce,” said van Der Kooij. “Individuals will also have opportunities to complete First Aid training, WHMIS training, and health and safety training.”

Starting in entry level job opportunities here in Lethbridge, participants who are eligible for the program can also apply for Foundational Learning Assistance Program Grants.

“Being awarded this opportunity fits perfectly in the philosophy of Lethbridge Family Services. Particularly with the capital we have, we work with people with developmental disabilities but we also have programs where we are aware of the individuals that really don’t fit in those areas,” said Lynette Taal, program manager for Lethbridge Family Services. “It’s a great opportunity for those individuals to learn employment skills and be contributing members of society and get a little help along the way.”

“Work provides so much more than just a wage. Many of us love our jobs, and it’s a great opportunity to have a support network, to have coworkers that you can become friends with afterwards,” said Taal. “It offers a peace of mind when you can have some money to pay your rent and buy groceries. Independence is huge and we all want that.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald