Two new initiatives by the Employment Services Centre of Prescott-Russell (CSEPR) will support people living with disabilities, and help at-risk youth find stable employment that meets their needs. The new projects were announced on October 20.

“Inter-Actions”, will enable CSEPR to develop a series of workshops specifically adapted to the challenges and needs faced by people living with a disability to enter the job market and maintain employment. Following their participation in a series of paid workshops, employment support and follow-up will be provided to enable the person to keep the job they have found. This project is made possible with funding of $1.2 million dollars from Employment and Social Development Canada. The three-year project will provide professional employment services to at least 90 people living with disabilities in Prescott-Russell and the surrounding areas.

“Although we already offer services to various at-risk clientele, this new project will enable us to provide even more tailored support to help people living with disabilities so that they are better equipped to take up employment that meets their interests, and their abilities,” said CSEPR Chair Lionel Renaud.

He explained that disabilities are not only physical or psychological handicaps, but also mental health problems including anxiety.

“Over and above the support offered to these people to help them take up a job they’ll be proud of, we will – through this project – support employers so they can better adapt to the specific needs of the target clientele,” said CSEPR Executive Director Caroline Arcand.

Vankleek Hill Foodland owner Justin Phelan urged employers to be open to the idea of hiring people with disabilities.

“They may be able to fill a role you’re not expecting to fill. Just keep your mind open,” Phelan said.

The project for at-risk youth involves the CSEPR establishing a framework for the expansion and replication of identified and implemented best practices, and an integrated approach to the delivery of employment services synchronized with clinical services. It is a one-year partnership with Valoris possible with support from the Valoris Foundation and the United Way of Eastern Ontario. Funding of nearly $100,000 for the project was received from Employment and Social Development Canada.  

“This collaboration offers the opportunity for each youth to develop the skills they need for a job,” said Valoris Director-General Caroline Granger.

“This is a highly motivating project for us, as it is aimed towards youth at-risk in our region. Through this project, we will be able to evaluate different practices to determine those that best meet the needs of this specific clientele,” Renaud said.

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