‘Just like everyone else’
Supported employment helps people with intellectual disabilities
“I feel I am like everyone else,” Crystal Young told the 40 people who turned out at Fong’s Restaurant in Carbonear June 29 to recognize local employers who have helped increase employment opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities.
Young is one of 108 persons with developmental disabilities involved in the supported employment program in the Trinity Conception region.
“Work to me means being independent,” Young said, adding: “It feels good to earn my own money.”
Mariner Resource Opportunities Network (M-RON) has been operating the supported employment service since taking over administration of the program in 2004.
“Every individual has the right to employment,” said Karen Davis, M-Ron’s executive director.
Davis explained, “the program was developed to identify and/or develop suitable employment options for individuals with developmental disabilities.”
With the appropriate development and support, “persons with developmental disabilities can acquire meaningful employment,” the director said.
Employer of merit
Bob Tetford, owner of R. Tetford & Son, received the 2010-11 employer of merit award for his contribution to the program.
During the past five years Tetford has employed two individuals, “who have gained long-term employment and have become an integral part of his staff,” said supported employment counsellor Jennifer Baker.
The business was chosen from among 10 local firms and organizations nominated for this year’s award.
Referring to Tetford, Baker noted: “This employer has a great understanding of the concept of supported employment and the benefits gained by both employee and employer. He works with each employee in a fair and just manner, regardless of ability or disability.”
Tetford speaks highly of the program and believes people with developmental disabilities are an asset to any business.
Describing this year’s award recipient as “a prime example of an equal opportunity employer, great corporate sponsor and community leader,” Baker said, Tetford and his staff “are committed to providing the best guidance and on-site support to his supported employment employees.”
One of the individuals employed by R. Tetford & Son works at its Harbour Grace store, while the other is employed at its Carbonear outlet.
While the award goes to one individual annually, the employment counsellor stressed it is designed “to recognize all employers in Zone 17 (Baccalieu Trail) who have made an outstanding contribution to the increased employment of citizens with developmental disabilities.”
R. Tetford & Son is one of 30 businesses in the region involved in the program.