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Stories: New training program propels youth to working success

By: Cliff Lee, Leader in Training participant

Joining the workforce is not an easy task, especially for youth with disabilities who have little or no previous work experience. However, this has changed since the introduction of the Leader in Training (LIT) program.

The Leader In Training program is designed for youth with disabilities, to help familiarize them in the workplace environment, and to introduce them to entry-level work skills.  A total of eight participants have enrolled in the program since it began in July 2007 at Bloorview Kids Rehab. 

The program consists of two sessions.  The first, is a summer placement with the Therapeutic Recreation specialists, and the second, is a March Break placement.  Many students look forward to the March Break placement because they have the opportunity to choose what field they want to work in.

Crystal making phone calls for Bloorview Kids Foundation

The March Break placement is ideal in allowing the young students to make use of their strengths. “The primary benefit of the variety of the placement options, is that each LIT is able to identify a specific area of future career interest,” says Robyn Sanford, one of the Leader in Training staff. And they have done just that. The eight LITs selected from a broad variety of placements leading into different careers, ranging from cooking in the food services department to writing web articles in the communications and public affairs department.

The LITs have learned a significant amount throughout their training experience. “One thing that I did not know before was that individuals could include Bloorview as part of their will. I think it would be a great option and an honorable act,” says Crystal, an LIT who is working with the Bloorview Kids Foundation for her March Break placement.

Learning about different types of careers is only one of the many benefits of the program. “The LIT program helps me to plan ahead, and also to work with other clients,” says Shabnam, who is working with Therapeutic Recreation for her March Break placement.

Cameron preparing a delicious dessert in the kitchen

The participants of Bloorview’s first Leader in Training program have thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope the program will grow to support more youth. “I would recommend this program to others because it’s a lot of work, but also fun and enjoyable. And you get a lot of work experience out of it,” says future chef Cameron. 

The new LIT program appears to be well received by the participants as well as the staff, hopefully this program will continue to help youth with disabilities for years to come.

For information on the LIT program, contact:

Robyn Sanford
Tel: (416) 425-6220, extension 6204
E-mail: rsanford at bloorview dot ca* (see Note below)

*Note: Copy the above e-mail address into the To field of your e-mail message and reconstruct the e-mail address by removing the spaces and replacing the “at” and “dot” with the proper symbols (@ and .) respectively.

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