Inclusion Foothills is getting the word out about its HIRE program.

As the name suggests the goal is to assist people in the rural area get and keep jobs.

Project coordinator Alise Kuipers says they are able to help those with what they call pan disabilities.

"It can be physical, it can be mental, it can be anything and they don't need to have a formal diagnosis to come here, so as long as they identify that 'yo know I'm having a real difficulty finding work because..." for whatever reason, we can work with them," Kuipers says.

The program is for those 16 years of age and over in High River, Okotoks and Claresholm.

Orvella Small says it started at their 4th Ave. location but then moved to their additional location on Macleod Trail next to the Scouts Hall, across from the Highwood Centre in April.

(l-to-r) Janice Chapman, Alise Kuipers, Jessi Vieira, Orvella Small(l-to-r) Janice Chapman, Alise Kuipers, Jessi Vieira, Orvella Small

"HIRE, the employment aspects of Inclusion Foothills, we average about a 60 to 70 per cent success rate and that's for people who are securing employment or returning to school," Kuipers adds. "We limit how many we work with per employment coach because they get such intense service with us, one-on-one attention and we meet the needs of the individual based on what they're bringing forward so it's very customized."

They work with the individuals in the program on things like resumes, job search, and interview skills depending on what they need, including modifications or accommodations on the job.

The business community, Kuipers says, has been supportive for the most part although some are just starting to learn about the program, which will work with employers for at least two months after someone is placed there to make sure it's a good fit.

There have been 209 adults, and 86 youths go through HIRE between 2014 and this year.

They have four employment coaches who work with persons in the program and a business engagement coach who speaks to business owners about hiring people with disabilities and a "wraparound" coach who meets with individuals and their families to make sure the foundational supports are in place like food, housing and transportation.

Employment coach Jesse Vieira says the program works well.

"I think it works really well because when you have a conversation with our participants you get to know them and everybody is so different so when you meet their concerns and address them, they're like 'I can do this' and then they go, you can't do that if everything is completely textbook."

"It's about building relationships and connections and providing a safe space for the individual or participant that's coming into the program," Wraparound coach Janice Chapman says. "When they feel they're in a safe space they feel that they have that trust to share information with us and it makes our jobs a lot easier when we can get that honesty from them, that truth of what's really going on in their lives because how do you wraparound services if you're not aware of what their real needs are."

She adds it's about creating independence and self-advocacy.


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