Youth Helping Youth

Guest Blog Post by: Bev Clarke, Executive Director of LDAWE

As LDAWE programs and services grow, youth involvement… and more importantly, the contribution of youth in our community continues to grow!

Haunted House FundraiserOn October 31, 2015, Adam Wong and DECA students from Sandwich Secondary School will be hosting Haunted House at 1245 Minto, in Lasalle. Months of planning, building, marketing, recruiting actors, and requesting donations goes into creating the Haunted House. This year, Tim Hortons will be providing free hot chocolate and Bull’s Eye Pizza will be donating pizza to be sold by the slice. All those entering the house are asked to give a donation. Proceeds from the event will benefit LDAWE’s Youth Recreation Program.

Recently, youth assisted in a number of ways to ensure the success of our recent Instruments of Change Conference and Gala. Youth sat on the planning committee and assisted with set up and clean up. Madeline Doornaert, a Walkerville Secondary School student, coordinated the musical entertainment and performed. Talented secondary school students (WCCA performers under the direction of Patti Hopper, the Micelli Twins, Lauren Elliott, Natalie Culmone, Georgia Rose) performed throughout the evening.

University of Windsor students enrolled in the Odette School of Business’ Management and Organizational Life Course are required to engage in a fundraising activity to benefit a local charity. LDAWE has been fortunate to receive donations from eight groups of students in the past couple of years.

This year, St. Clair College students in the Educational Support Program Club have selected LDAWE as the recipient of funds raised by the Club.

And last, but not least, the LDAWE has been fortunate to have the voice of a youth on the Board of Directors, as the Youth Consumer Representative. Rachel Baker and Donny Wilcox previously contributed to the Board, and currently, Lucas Lavoie represents youth at the Board table.

Youth Helping YouthLDAWE encourages youth involvement in a variety of ways, as program participants, volunteers, employees, secondary school co-op placements, and as Board members. LDAWE would like to thank all of the youth who have demonstrated a commitment to building a community partnerships that supports the work of the Association and ultimately assists in improving the availability of services for individuals with learning disabilities and ADHD in Windsor-Essex County.

Moving Towards Strength-Based Learning

Strength-Based LearningIt’s October.  For the Learning Disabilities Association of Windsor – Essex County (LDAWE) this means a busy month with lots of activities, because October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month.  This year’s plans in Windsor – Essex have included:

A major focus of this year’s events have been a transition from focusing on the individual with learning disabilities’ weaknesses to focusing on their strengths.  During the Keynote at the Instruments of Change Conference, Dr. Cory Saunders referenced Dr. Ross Greene‘s “Kids Do Well When They Can” model.  Saunders asked the audience, “Why do we focus on the negative?  Does this help the child?”  Saunders left the audience with a to do list:

  1. Focus on successes
  2. Normalize development
  3. Foster growth in areas of strength

Another great resource for parents and educators is the HBO documentary, I Can’t Do This But I Can Do That: A Film for Families About Learning Differences as seen in the trailer below:

So what is strength-based learning?  Here at LDAWE, we believe that strength-based learning allows people to participate and excel in activities that match their strengths.  We began this process in our Summer Enrichment Camps by having weekly themes, which allow children to excel at drama, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), etc…  During our Open House, we will be taking this one step further by announcing plans for our new 3D Printer.

We encourage you to bring your entire family (recommended for ages 6+) with you to LDAWE’s Open House on October 24, 2015 from 9:00am – 12:00pm at 647 Ouellette Avenue in Windsor, Ontario.  The highlight of this free event will be the demonstration of our new 3D Printer; however, there will also be a child activity area, demonstrations of our assistive technology, and information about our programs, scholarship, etc… A short presentation will take place at 11:00am.  A few lucky attendees will even win one of the items made by the 3D Printer during the event.

Contact us at info@LDAWE.ca or 519-252-7889 for more details.

Creating A Diverse Workforce

Parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) or ADHD often have many questions about their child’s future. These can include:

  • What kind of career / job should my child pursue?
  • Where will my child work?
  • Will my child be able to hold down a job?

In general, people with LD / ADHD have average or above average intelligence. This means that they should be able to secure and maintain meaningful employment. Despite this, many people with LD / ADHD struggle to find and keep a job. Sometimes this is due to a poor match between the individual’s strengths and the essential duties of the job, a lack of appropriate social skills, difficulty staying on task, etc… However, sometimes this may be due to employers having misconceptions about how having an LD / ADHD will affect an employee.

The Problem is not the Disability

What can you do to help?

If you are a parent of a child with LD / ADHD, encourage your employer to hire people with disabilities. Every business can benefit from ensuring they have a diverse workforce. This is not charity; this is just good business sense.

At one of their distribution centers where more than 50 percent of the employees have disabilities, Walgreens has experienced a 120 percent productivity increase. Now they are expanding that successful model to retail locations across the state and country.

– Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, 2014 State of the State Address

At LDAWE, approximately 30% of our 40 employees have disabilities, including LD, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, mental illness, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and vision impairments. LDAWE does not create jobs specifically for people with disabilities. By ensuring that each of our employee’s strengths match their job duties the need for accommodations is minimized and employee moral and productivity has increased.

Melissa Donaldson, director of employee networks and communications of the Diversity & Inclusion department at Walgreens says:

Our guiding mantra is “same job, same performance.” Walgreens has no “special” jobs carved out especially for individuals with disabilities. Team members with and without disabilities assume the same job roles and responsibilities across the enterprise, earning the same pay and striving to meet the same job performance expectations.

LDAWE works with several individuals with LD / ADHD who are seeking employment through our Employment Supports program. If you are an employer who wishes to gain the benefits of having a more diverse workforce, please contact our office at 519-252-7889 or info@ldawe.ca.