Cape Town NGO helping disabled youth dream big

2018-04-17 06:00

A local community organisation is helping young disabled people realise their dreams.

Work4You is an NGO in Salt River that trains people with intellectual disabilities, aged between 18 and 30, before placing them in the open labour market.

"We train our members through a work task where they make handmade natural dog treats. We then sell the dog treats as fundraising," says spokesperson Sania Israel.

Training involves occupational therapists who assess the trainees’ readiness for work and personal growth and then teach them work habits and skills, as well as independent living and interpersonal skills.

Sania Israel, graduate Shakira Harris and Lynn D’A
(From left) Work4You spokesperson Sania Israel, graduate Shakira Harris and occupational therapist Lynn D’Alton. (Luvuyo Mjekula/People's Post)

The trainees attend sessions up to four days a week and receive a monthly stipend. Various fees are charged for various services, but Israel says the organisation offers bursaries for those who cannot afford the fees.

"Work4You celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and has been going from strength to strength. With the financial assistance we received from a reputable company we are able to offer bursaries to the less fortunate," says Israel.

'I am happy that I am working now'

She encourages parents to consider enrolling their children with Work4You.

Operations manager and occupational therapist, Lynn D’Alton, explains how she and her colleagues support the trainees. "Supported employment consultants will ensure that a job is appropriate for members and the transition from our training facility to the work environment begins.

"Members have the full support of occupational therapists throughout this process until they feel confident enough to handle the everyday challenges. This support continues long after they have left us."

Adds D’Alton: "We have a 70% to 80% success rate in securing and sustaining jobs in the open labour market for our members."

Graduate Shakira Harris, 21, who recently completed her one-year training at Work4You, is beginning to live her dream.

She is currently receiving on-the-job training at Hair & Fashion Emporium in Woodstock.

Her dream is to become a successful hairdresser. "I am happy that I am working now and I can do hairdressing. Without Work4You I don’t think I would be working," she says.

Appeal for community support

Another success story is that of a young man who has Down’s Syndrome.

He and some of the members asked not to be identified.

Since receiving training at Work4You, he has been working two jobs in different retail stores. He assists in unpacking delivery trucks, cleaning and checking price labels in the fridges and weighing fruit and vegetables.

Fortunes started changing for a 23-year-old intellectually disabled man who also suffers from asthma, after he joined Work4You in February 2015. He started assessment and training and later that year completed work trials at a packaging company. He was offered a three-day, eight-hour work trial at a factory with a view to employing him.

He has since signed a contract of employment and works four days a week.

"His employment is going well and he is well liked by his colleagues," says a proud Israel.

The organisation appeals to members of the community and retail outlets to buy the dog treats and to sponsor bursaries, and urges parents to send their children for training.

For more information, contact Work4You on 021 447 0378 or by email to office@work4you.org.za.

Read more on:    cape town  |  education

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