Sandy Larivee, Executive Director, Essex Youth Centre: The Essex Youth Centre is a drop-in centre for teens. It’s just a safe haven, it’s a place where kids can access resources available for teens, whether it’s health, sports activities, programs; just a place to hangout and know that they’re safe in the community.

Marc Rocheleau, Public Relations Officer, Essex Youth Centre: I work here at the Essex Youth Centre as their Public Relations Officer. It’s a job that entails working on media releases, sending out articles to the local newspapers about what we’re doing here at the Centre. I’m visually impaired, I’m completely blind.

[After graduating from Journalism, Marc enrolled in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Employment Supports to help him find and retain employment.

He was matched with service provider Insight Enterprises, who helped him find his job at the Essex Youth Centre.]

Paula McIntosh, Director of Employment Services, Insight Enterprises: We are a service provider for the Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports Unit. As a result, we provide a wide range of services to individuals with any type of disability who are interested in securing employment. We provided him with mobility training — so that is, I came in with Marc and guided him through every aspect of the centre to make sure he could navigate safely and confidently to everywhere that he needed to go. With the advances of technology, we are fortunate to have JAWS software available to him — that is a specialized software for people who are blind.

Marc: Basically JAWS is a narration software; it works through keyboard shortcuts. You use the arrow keys to navigate, and then it reads to you what’s going on.

Sandy: He’s a good employee because he’s reliable, he’s consistent, you know, he knows what the job is. Being a youth centre, we want to give that balance to the kids to understand that not everybody’s the same, that everybody has different challenges. That’s how you do it, is by exposing them to all these different things and making sure that they are not only tolerant, but accepting of everybody.

Marc: You know, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, and especially with a disability. I think they help and they fight for you to get you in somewhere. They kind of give you a little bit more direction as to how to approach getting a job, and they can also talk to the employers as well and show them that just because a person’s disabled, it doesn’t mean that they’re not able to do the job.