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North Shore organization helps individuals with intellectual disabilities find employment

Inclusive hiring brings many benefits to a business, including increased community engagement, social investment and higher staff retention rates
Stephen BurHan
With support from the Employment ConneXions program, Stephan overcame barriers and found a job he enjoys.

For 65 years, North Shore ConneXions Society has fostered an environment of inclusion by supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The organization provides quality programs and services, which support the development, independence and empowerment of adults, children and families.

They also work in partnership with society members and the community to advocate for the development of a full range of community-based services that meet each person's unique needs.

Employment ConneXions is one such service, assisting those with barriers to employment find long-term and fulfilling work that meets their strengths and skills.

Meet one of the participants in the Employment Program

Stephan works at BUR-HAN Garden and Lawn Care, where his responsibilities vary from raking and weeding to hedge trimming and ensuring that all of the equipment is working correctly.

Of all his daily tasks, he most enjoys trimming the hedges. Stephan says, "You have to pay attention - if you accidentally cut something wrong, it takes a lot of work to fix it. It's challenging."

One of Stephan's responsibilities is to pack and unpack the truck. It takes a lot of effort to get everything back in the correct place to fit safely.

"I've learned a lot of great skills – organization is key to this job - you need a system," Stephan explains.

Stephan is a social person who really loves his team, particularly his supervisor, Kevin.

"If I need help, I ask Kevin. For example, he knows that I have trouble remembering the numbers that I need to push on the tablet to check in and out. So, he helps me with that," says Stephan.

"My job coach at North Shore ConneXions is also very good. She helped me find a job that I love and enjoy. I was interested in landscaping. I wanted to learn something new and I wanted to work in a team setting. 

My coach listened to what I wanted and helped me find something that I liked. I haven't missed one day of work because I love it here and fit in quite well."

Being part of the BUR-HAN team is excellent for Stephan, and BUR-HAN.

The team works well together and has figured out a strategy so that everyone succeeds. Kevin, the team leader has enabled Stephan to focus on areas of interest and skill and has taken the time to develop ways for Stephan to improve and grow.

The Employment Specialists at North Shore ConneXions connect with employers to promote inclusivity in the workforce and offer job coaching and support services once an employee with diverse abilities is hired.

Inclusive hiring brings many benefits to a business, including increased community engagement, social investment and higher staff retention rates.

The North Shore ConneXions Supported Employment Program has partnered with many businesses across the North Shore, including Home Depot, Walmart, Bluhouse Market & Cafe, Cineplex Theatres, London Drugs, Queensdale Market, Starbucks, Bee Haven Childcare, West Vancouver Police Department, Deep Cove Brewers, White Spot, Two Daughters Bakeshop, and many more.

The program is person-centred and focuses on the interests of the job seeker. The team gets to know the individual's strengths, skills, and employment interests and then explores different opportunities to find a good fit.

North Shore ConneXions also offers Employment & Community Awareness (ECA) Presentations.

Through interactive and educational workshops, employers and their teams learn about the challenges faced by those who identify as having a disability. They also learn about the talents, skills and rich emotional contributions these individuals bring to their communities, friends and workplaces.

These presentations will inspire your teams to welcome diversity, encourage differences, and ultimately contribute to building communities where all people are valued and included.