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Employment… my point of view

Janet Charchukby Janet Charchuk

My name is Janet Charchuk and I live in Alberton PEI. I am 29 years old and have Down syndrome. I am a self advocate with Voices at the Table Advocacy Committee (VATTA) with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS).

Having a job that I enjoy is important to me. But it has been a challenge. Since I graduated from high school I have had several different jobs and taken part in on the job training with Community Inclusion and several employers. I have worked in hotels, seniors home, stores, and now a day care that I love!!

From my work with VATTA I have learned that finding meaningful and paid employment is a challenge for most people with different abilities across Canada. Some employers are scared to give people with different abilities a chance. They think that they cannot do the job or that they will make more work for the other employees. Or they think that they should get funding to hire someone with different ability. Also they think that pay should be less for people with different abilities. All of these ideas are false!! The employers need to focus on the abilities and what people can do and not focus on the challenges people may have. Everyone has abilities and something to contribute.

I have heard lots of positive stories from my fellow VATTA members about their jobs. And I have had the opportunity to present employers with awards at CDSS national conferences for their hiring of adults with Down syndrome. They tell lots of stories about loyal and dedicated workers. One thing that helped me to be successful at a job was having a job coach to help me learn the job. The job coach stayed with me until I learned what to do. Also they helped write out a task list to follow. After a while I did not need the job coach or the task list.

Another thing that has helped me get jobs is volunteering at several places in my community. I have volunteered at our library and seniors residences. These led to part time jobs. Sometimes once you get out there in the community and people see you participating and helping, they realize you would be a great worker. My present job, four days a week, is at a home-based day care. I love my boss and the kids and I get to help plan and do fun and educational activities with the kids.

Source: Ready, Willing & Able, Volume 2, March 2013

For more information on Employment, please visit Employment: Ready Willing Able.