Shelburne, Ontario, Canada — In an effort to address the pressing problem of unemployment in individuals with autism, a Canadian camp devised a program that will help young adults with autism develop the job skills that they need in order to find employment.
Camp Thrive is designed to help young adults with autism identify a skill that they actually enjoy, and develop that into an actual job skill that will help them land a job that they will like, once they’ve completed training.
The camp is operated by a team of educational and vocational, medical, and psycho-social experts from the Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ISAND).
For ISAND, the need for services such as the ones that Camp Thrive has to offer is evident. In an interview with CTV News, the camp’s co-director, Howard Dalal, told:
“We don’t think about planning for these kids’ futures down the road.
“And instead of having them contribute to society like they can, we end up just pushing them to the side.”
Camp Thrive was opened barely two years ago, and in just a short period of time, it was able to turn its campers’ lives around.
Among those whose lives were changed by the camp is 22-year-old Michael Zuccaro, who was once violent.
Zuccaro now runs his own business, which focuses on woodcrafting, and was able to make about $30,000 in profits for last year alone.
The camp also paved the way for big companies to notice aspiring workers with autism, like one of the campers who once dreamt of becoming a Starbucks barista.
That dream became a reality when Starbucks officials heard about what Camp Thrive does for individuals with autism, and immediately offered two of the campers part-time jobs in one of their stores.
Starbucks made it clear, however, that their action wasn’t done out of charity. According to Starbucks Spokeswoman Louissa Girotta:
“It’s meaningful employment. You get paid, you have a job description and it’s perfect for that skill, that capability.”
Camp Thrive, which was once just an experiment to see how individuals with autism would do in a three-week camp that’s full of vocational activities, has definitely made it far.
Source: CTV News Opportunity knocks: Young adults with autism learn job skills at Ontario camp