Take a seaside walk for jobs

2016-03-15 06:00

Capetonians can help get jobs for those with autism spectrum disorders – by using their feet.

The 5km walk will start and finish at the Mouille Point Lighthouse in Sea Point on Saturday 2 April.

All proceeds from the event will go to establishing a support programme for local adults with autism spectrum disorder to gain and maintain employment.

The fun walk organised by Autism Western Cape also marks World Autism Awareness Day.

“The event is open to the public, but is also tailored around being fun and accessible for families affected by autism spectrum disorder. In doing so, we aim to create awareness around autism, as well as raise much needed funds for our adult support training and mentorship programme,” says Autism Western Cape spokesperson Michelle Basset.

Autism Western Cape is a non-profit organisation offering support and counselling to families affected by autism spectrum disorder, as well as education and training to professionals who come into contact with those affected.

“One statistic quotes that a child is born with an autism spectrum disorder every 45 minutes in South Africa,” explains Bassett.

It has always been a worry for parents with children on the autism spectrum when their children finish school, as there are few job opportunities for them, Basset says.

“There are very few organisations that are willing to hire adults with autism. Autism Western Cape is thus in the process of creating a programme for adults on the spectrum to help them obtain and maintain places in the working arena,” she says.

The programme will support and give training to adults with autism to improve their job readiness and give them mentorship and support in the workplace. The programme will also provide education for organisations to sustain the mentorship programme.

“As one of the greatest challenges of autism is social interaction, the programme would entail one-on-one training until candidates have learnt coping mechanisms and strategies on how to deal with social situations. Once the adult with autism is able to secure employment, a mentor within his department or store would be identified. This mentor’s role would be to give guidance and support,” she says.

Identified organisations would receive training on employment and inclusion of adults with autism in the workplace. These businesses can then be registered as an inclusive place of employment that hires individuals with autism, Bassett says.

“We are appealing for help of any kind which will help us make this programme a reality,” she says.

The fundraising walk is one of the ways to contribute toward the project, Bassett says.

Registration for the fun walk starts at 09:00 on Saturday 2 April at the Mouille Point Lighthouse. The walk will begin at 10:00.

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