Community

Coquitlam teens think about life after school

Everyone deserves a good quality of life and everyone needs to take steps to achieve it.

That's the message of the Simon Fraser Society for Community Living and School District 43 which are partnering to hold a transition resource fair called Connections for students with physical and developmental disabilities and their families.

The event, planned for this Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Winslow Centre gym (1100 Winslow Ave., Coquitlam), will feature information booths, opportunities to talk to people form community agencies and services, networking, refreshments and workshop sessions.

Cathy Anthony and Rachel le Nobel of the Simon Fraser Society said the fair is geared to teens from middle school and up and their families who are looking ahead to life after school and need to make some plans.

They'll need to think about post-secondary school, job opportunities, housing, recreation and transportation and the transition fair is a great opportunity to get information all in one location, the two said.

"Like every young person who is graduating, they're wondering about what adult life will look like," Anthony said. "You have to be able to use your high school years effectively, and to do so, you have to look, 'OK what's out there.'"

There may have been a time when teenagers with special needs were satisfied with limited opportunities for growth and change, but no longer. In the last 20 years since the Transitions workshop has been held, Anthony and le Nobel say they've seen a big shift in how these young people see themselves and their expectations for a good life.

Along with their changing expectations, Anthony said, are changing societal expectations, with more post-secondary and work opportunities for these young people.

"Employment is a realistic goal and an important vision and employers are realizing the importance of and the value(of a more diverse workplace)." she said.

"They're coming out of schools with big hopes and dreams like their peers," le Nobel added.

In addition to the annual transition fair, the Simon Fraser Society also partners with SD43 on workshops throughout the year to help young people and families make seamless transitions as they move through school. Upcoming on Nov. 15, is a Transition to Adulthood Parent Network presentation on the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

Other workshops include It's Time to Talk About Middle School, Stepping Up to Secondary School, Making the Most of Secondary School and Transition to Adulthood  — Leaving HIgh school, which take pace in early 2013.

For more information, email canthony@sfscl.org or rlenobel@fscl.org.

COQUITLAM TEENS BLOG ABOUT LIFE AFTER SCHOOL

What does life after school look like?

That question is answered in a blog written by five students, including graduates of Coquitlam's Dr. Charles Best secondary school, as part of a pilot project to help young people think about their future.

The BC Association for Community Living has launched the “on my way” transitions project to help students with special needs and their families prepare for life after high school.

According to the association, students who graduate with an Evergreen Certificate (also known as a School Leaving Certificate), and not a Dogwood Certificate, have "an equal right to a bigger, better, future." Getting to that point will require "early planning and ongoing cooperative planning between family and teachers and loved ones and services providers who might surround the student," the association states.

For more information, to see a video and follow the blog, visit here.

 

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