Greg’s Life after High School
We love sharing stories of lives of belonging. This story came to us from Greg and his mother about building the life he wanted after graduating from high school. Thanks for sharing, Greg!
A year prior to graduation, we began discussing what would Greg like to do after high school. Greg was so excited to be finishing his last year of school and I began feeling every emotional; I was overwhelmed with joy, fear, excitement, and apprehension. I began embracing the idea that we were starting the next chapter of Greg’s life.
Greg had expressed interest in being paid for a job. Not an easy task for our children to find. He also wanted to learn how to play the guitar and have a six-pack; Greg wanted a personal trainer.
During Greg’s high school years he had taken all the auto shop and hospitality courses and enjoyed them all but his passion was/is cars. We also had an updated resume and reference letters from his co-op employer.
Greg completed several years of co-op at St. Vincent de Paul prior to his last year of co-op in the school cafeteria. Greg became a cafeteria supervisor due to his attention to detail.
With the prep work done we approached St. Vincent de Paul and Greg handed in his resume. They remembered Greg was a great worker and of course they would love to have him volunteer.
I hired Lori Maloney-Young, a Facile Facilitator to help me find a job in the food industry for Greg and to help me with other transition needs. Lori took Greg to Queen’s Common Café in Kitchener and introduced him to the staff and tasks he would be doing and Greg said he wanted to work there. Together Lori and I worked on bus training for Greg. Since we live in Cambridge, this was a big deal to have Greg take a bus to the Cambridge Ainslie Terminal and then transfer to the iExpress to Kitchener.
Next, I visited Community Living in Cambridge and checked out what they had to offer. Courses, dances, groups etc. One program offered was a “fun and fitness” program at the YMCA with a personal trainer. Greg was signed up and spent Thursday mornings working out, playing basketball and working on his six-pack.
Now, we had four week days busy plus working on busing. Greg still wanted to work more and questioned when was he starting guitar lessons? My next task began. I knew a few young men who were in Greg’s youth group who played guitar. One young man was very keen to teach Greg. Greg has been doing guitar lessons for 9 months and progressing well. Another tick on our list.
Lori called me in April and asked me if Greg still wanted to work with cars? My response was a definite YES. Lori told me she had met a man, Shane Leonard (car salesman) who has a son with Down Syndrome while she was test driving a car. Shane wanted to learn about becoming a facilitator. They met at the café on a day that Greg was working. Greg was friendly and Shane saw that Greg was a hard worker. Later, Shane spoke with his boss at the KIA dealership in Cambridge and suggested that they hire someone to do jobs the salesmen are too busy to do. The job would start off with a day per week and go from there. Shane called Lori and asked her if she could recommend anyone for a position that KIA would create. He also asked about the young man he had met?
Next Shane contacted Greg, he was interviewed and taken to the dealership to meet the boss. Greg was hired! Greg’s passion for cars shone. Greg needed training and Shane worked with Greg on his day off as his facilitator. After a few one per week training sessions, Greg started working two paid days per week. Dreams do come true! Greg has been working successfully for more than 6 months at KIA. Greg will continue to learn and as he is successful with new tasks he will be trained to do more. Greg hopes to help with oil changes and tire rotation one day, but for right now Greg is happy wearing his KIA shirt and working with the great KIA team.
We hope that other businesses will create jobs for people with special needs to learn and become successful employees. It is about finding the right fit and looking for opportunities.
Transition can be stressful and will be ongoing, but with networking, contacts, friends, associations and some luck it can be very rewarding. With every transition come new dreams and possibilities. All we can do is try our best for our children.
Shane Leonard and Lori Maloney-Young have helped Greg with his future and we are very appreciative.
We would also like to thank the Down Syndrome Society for offering the Transition Bursary. The bursary makes it much easier to afford the extra services Greg needs.
Thank you for letting us share,
Greg and Cindy
Way to go, Greg!
Note: We have edited this post to add this great video of Greg’s job at Queen Street Commons Cafe.