The summer season is one of the busiest times at the Vecova Bottle Depot.
In anticipation of the influx of bottles from festivals and events, Vecova saw a unique opportunity for youth with disabilities.
Using a special grant, the bottle depot hired eight youth, aged 16 – 24, with disabilities to train and work as Summer Recycling Sorters, processing bottles and gaining valuable work experience.
After unsuccessful attempts to find work during his Grade 11 year, Richard Lieu applied for a summer position at the Vecova Bottle Depot.
“It’s nice to have a routine everyday with a purpose, and it’s good being able to take the bus,” said Richard.
Learning new skills and understanding the greater work world, motivated him to apply for the position. The alternative, he says, was to be at home this summer, and he wanted to be out of the house and working.
Richard will now be entering Grade 12 equipped with experience; an advantage many youth with disabilities don’t have.
The struggle to enter the workforce for youth is particularly challenging when past work experiences are minimal. When a person has a disability, the challenges become exponentially greater. This transition period is a critical time for both individuals and their families, and is a key issue that Vecova is driving forward by helping build community resources, tools and support.
“As Richard’s supervisor, I have watched him grow,” said Vecova Team Leader, Kim Yager.
“I could see changes in him once he started feeling comfortable in his job; his confidence increased, he became more outgoing and became a key team member.”
According to Kim, the experience has allowed Richard to not only gain skills and have a summer job, but also to explore what kind of work he wants to do upon leaving high school.
Richard is now an employee of the bottle depot and completing his high school work experience. He is also working in conjunction with Vecova’s Work Skills Development Team to help build a solid foundation as he, like many Calgary youth, begin this important transition into adulthood.