Andrea has been a participant in Innovative’s Employment Services program for almost six years, volunteering at several businesses here in Vancouver to gain on-the-job experience during her time with the program. She has cerebral palsy and paraplegia, limiting her mobility and independence. At one time Andrea had a power chair, but over time and daily use it broke down. The cost of a new chair was high, so Andrea switched to a manual wheelchair that she had been using since she started with Innovative. Her Job Coach, Nicole, shared, “It negatively impacted her pathway to employment because it often made working at her volunteer sites more difficult; she required my assistance with many of her tasks.” Because the manual chair limited the experience that Andrea gained, Nicole, and Christy, another Employment Services Job Coach, successfully advocated through the Developmental Disabilities Administration to provide Andrea with a new power chair, which she started using just one month ago.
Andrea and the Employment Services team are excited at the possibilities that this new power chair has afforded her.“It’s had a huge impact on Andrea’s confidence and self-esteem. People often forget that successful employment is easier to obtain when you feel confident in your abilities,” Nicole shared. Andrea is soon adding new tasks to her volunteer position at Habitat for Humanity and will be learning how to navigate the sales floor in her new power chair. She hopes to take on more responsibilities with her new-found independence, and eventually, transition to paid employment.