Samantha Collett (Left) & Karen Allin (Right)
The transition from youth to adulthood is difficult for everyone. Making decisions about what you would like to do with your future, and ensuring that you make the right choices to reach that goal can be a stressful time in your life. Adding a disability into the mix, makes the transition even harder. The Navigator for Youth Program provided by the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC (CPABC) is here to guide you through that transition and ensure that it is a smooth one.
The Gap in the System
Samantha Collett, a 29-year-old social worker from Mission, shares her experience of how living with cerebral palsy made it very difficult to plan for her future. As a teenager and young adult, “I felt like the system had let me down by not having the services in place to help me reach my goal of becoming a social worker and so it prolonged my journey”.
In addition to needing to transfer to adult support and assistance programs after age 18, young people with disabilities who receive government funding to cover the cost of medical supplies and equipment may face a funding gap between the ages of 18 and 19. As the current system stands, people with disabilities are not eligible for adult services until the age of 19, even though they “age out” of youth services at age 18. As you can imagine, the need for funding still exists during the gap year, leaving many people feeling stranded and not knowing where to go for help.
Building a Bridge
Samantha says, “I think it would have been easier if someone was there as I was transitioning into adulthood to help me find housing, get into post-secondary school, apply for person with disability benefits, find employment,” as well as access services she needed such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The Navigator for youth program provides guidance to will help people with disabilities make a clear plan for the future. We can help you fill out the overwhelming amount of paper work and applications, find meaningful employment, and live more independently.
Once Sam received her social work degree, finding a job was even more difficult. When asked how many job interviews she had been through, she says “I lost count.” Many jobs required a driver’s license, but because of her cerebral palsy she is unable to drive. Samantha also struggled to find employment because of the current job market. It took Samantha four years to find a secure job. The Navigator for youth program can help to alleviate some of the employment obstacles faced by youth with disabilities, through referrals to appropriate programs, support and encouragement.
Getting to the Other Side
During this challenging time, Samantha also attended the CPABC Pre-Employment program, which helps individuals with disabilities ensure they have the essential workplace skills that are needed in any job. Samantha feels that this program helped to improve her self-confidence as well as her social skills, which allowed her to meet new people and find her current job.
Samantha now works at MY House (Mission Youth House) which is a place where youth can come and get important things such as meals, shelter, and access to a doctor. Through this job, Samantha hopes to “make services in Mission available to everyone.”
Samantha continues to strive for further independence, as she wants to be able to do “anything that a non-disabled person would be able to do”, including finding her own apartment. The Navigator for youth program can help you achieve your goals just like Samantha.