Why does NOVA help find people that have a disability work?
Here's an example:
David was 18 and had never worked in a paid job – he has a brother and sister and all three have a moderate intellectual disability.
School had been an unrelenting disaster with persistent bullying a daily part of David’s life – the ‘Station Gang’- a group of particularly cruel teenagers that gained their name by hanging out at the local train station, specialised in taunting David. His life adjusted around their presence, and although he was an adult he had 2 choices – he could take a long detour home or he could wait a while and his mother would walk him home when her train arrived (about an hour after school finished.
At the end of his final year of school, we found David a full time job and we provided significant post placement support – the work (general labour in a metal fabrication plant) was generally shift based but the owners varied this for David, allowing him a couple of months to learn his role before giving him on-going employment on a rotating roster that sometimes included early starts and late finishes.
David thrived – no more ‘yogurt bombing’ – a school bully favourite, no teasing, no crap of any kind – just the usual stuff associated with employment and, for David the best of all, a regular pay cheque that meant he could help support his mum, brother and sister and save for the things he wanted for himself.
I was in my office when mum came to see me and asked whether I could spare her a moment. She sat down and started to cry (this happens a bit to me and I keep a handy pack of Kleenex’s for just such times.
Expecting the worst I asked for the cause of her grief and she told me, “David’s shift’s mean that I sometimes catch the same train home and on Thursday we got off the train and walked past David’s former school ‘chums’ in the Station Gang, they shouted out to David, ‘hey Spaz (his school nickname and an abbreviation for Spastic, used as an insult), what are you doing’? David replied, I just finished work’ – the gang exchanged surprised glances and one of them said, ‘have you got a job’? David said yes in reply and one of his former classmates said, “I wish I was you’?
Work changes lives and being an employee (however humble) trumps what Australian's refer to as 'dole bludging' - receiving welfare. David's role as worker changed his status and certainly elevated him above his former tormentors - he knew it, and so did they.
Mum told me it was one of the best days of her life and I have to say it wasn’t a bad day for me either.
Making a real difference in the lives of our job seekers is what this game is all about – 2012 is going to be our best ever, so stay tuned for the most exciting year in our history.
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