Lynda is the mother of Charlotte, a year 12 student with Down Syndrome who has been busy over the past year taking part in six difference work experience placements.
Through Ticket to Work and the support of Charlotte’s school, Lynda now feels more positive about Charlotte finishing school.
“We are coming to the end of year 12. All she has talked about is what she’s going to do next year and has found it overwhelming. Charlotte doesn’t want to be at home alone. Money is secondary to her. Building skills, building confidence in her communication and having a purpose to get up every day, just like her sister, mum and dad – that’s what’s important,” Lynda says.
Charlotte recently finished a 10 week placement at a local café, Two Before Ten, which went so well that it was extended for another 5 weeks. Lynda says that Jen, the café manager, has been great and Jen and her have formed a good relationship with good communication, which has been important to support Charlotte in the role.
“Jen sat her (Charlotte) down and gave her a gift and card. In the card it said that we would love to offer you a job. I can’t tell you how awesome this was … She (Charlotte) called me and said ‘Mum I got a job!’ She was so excited,” Lynda says. “It was one of the most amazing conversations I have ever had with her. It was wonderful because she did it – she achieved this job and she did it all herself!”
Charlotte is now working three afternoons per week working on a variety of tasks, anything from setting tables, filling up water bottles, sandwich preparation, to polishing glasses, making coffee to taking customer orders on an iPad.
“I see more confidence in her and that she can go out in the workplace and feel more confident to do it independently. She is listening to supervisors and following instruction from work colleagues, and it is so rewarding to have her come home and share her experiences with us.”
Lynda believes that work experience benefits young people with disability. “Helping build routines and having expectations from someone other than a teacher, an employer, helps build communication skills and resilience. Charlotte uses the word ‘assertiveness’ now; she never would have known that word before this experience. I can see peers of hers that have a disability, but haven’t attended a specialist school where work experience has been encouraged. These young people are struggling because they haven’t had exposure to work experience placements.”
“Please don’t give up this Ticket to Work initiative. I see how important it is for young people with disabilities. I see how successful it has been for Charlotte. You can’t rely on the careers person at school – having Frank (Ticket to Work consultant) come in and connect jobs not just based on skills but based on passions was invaluable. He takes their interests and passions and then goes looking for the right employer. Ticket to Work has just been brilliant. There are many young people that will benefit from this if it continues!”