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Anything is Possible

How the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program turned a life around proving it is about far more than just sports

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In response to this growing need Sea to Sky Community Services recently developed the Mentorship Employment Program, in addition to its other services. It should be noted that Sea to Sky Community Services has been providing Life Skill and Community Access services in Whistler since 2000, and although the demand has increased for employment-focused support for youth transitioning from high school to the working world, the funds are hard to find. "We have increased services in Whistler whenever possible, which is inevitably tied to funding," says Nancy Thompson, Acting Manager of Community Living Services.

"We can't provide quality, staffed services without funding. The government ministries responsible for providing the bulk of such funding have been undergoing their own budget constraints, which have inevitably effected our service provision. That being said, we have and continue to seek alternative funding services to provide what I know are very essential services to the citizens of the Sea to Sky Corridor. We are fortunate to have Vancouver Foundation financially support our Mentorship Employment Program, and assist in providing these essential services for people with developmental disabilities."

The program has guaranteed funding for 2012, with the opportunity for continued funding after that, although Thompson adds cautiously that it "depends on a number of variables." The Mentorship Employment Program provides adults with developmental disabilities support in the growth of their career goals by assisting them with hands-on placements in local businesses.

"The development of the Mentorship Employment Program was a direct result of our recognition of need for more supports for people with developmental disabilities in Whistler, and our efforts to gain more funding," says Thompson.

The program also aims to break down misconceptions about the process of hiring and working with someone with developmental needs, and for business to see the benefits of a workforce that is truly reflective of the community. "This is about getting a job," says Faye Wightman, president and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation. "A job is so much more than just a paycheque. It's an important source of self-esteem, of satisfaction (in a job well done), of ongoing education, of growth, of interaction with other people, and the community at-large. It's also a measure of achievement. Young people with developmental disabilities face huge barriers to employment. Anything we can do to help increase their chances of getting a job is worthwhile. That's why we're proud to support Sea to Sky Community Services, and their Mentorship Employment Program."

Sarah and three of her friends are part of this new program. "I think it is a fun activity, it helps me with my goals in life," says Sarah. "I want to get faster at ski racing!  I want to go to school and work as an artist and move out!"

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