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"...at Youth in Transition, everyone is welcome."


You can’t miss the enthusiasm in Justin’s voice when he talks about the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region’s Youth in Transition program.

“I’m loving it.  I’m loving it completely.  Youth Group is the most important activity I do outside home.  I will probably be involved with the program until I can’t do it anymore!”

Justin, 23, has been involved with Youth Group since he was a participant at age 17.  “Yours was the only program that would take me in,” he said.  “I was either too high-functioning or too low-functioning for any others.  But at Youth in Transition, everyone is welcome.  We accept everybody for who they are.”

Justin has nine cognitive disabilities including asbergers, tourettes and bi-polar disorder, but you would never know from talking to him.  He is an avid conversationalist, and a mentor and attendant with the Youth Group program—a position he attained through the facilitator’s invitation.

When asked if he was interested to take on more of a leadership role with the group, Justin immediately agreed.  “I really enjoy helping the community and making a difference.  And it’s great when people look up to you.  It makes you feel good.”

Justin talks about the positive effect that Youth in Transition has had on the way he socializes, and also on building confidence which he uses to succeed in his work.  Justin, who has been working in food services since 2007, now works on his own during almost every shift, and has mastered every task in the store.  “I’m the only person there who knows how to do everything,” he stated proudly.  And learning to take on that kind of responsibility is one of the most important elements of adulthood.

The Youth in Transition program has been helping young people with disabilities to navigate the path from adolescence to adulthood for over five years.  Justin is just one of many participants who has thoroughly enjoyed the program, both as a social outlet and as a place of learning.  

“It’s a wonderful program.  We’re like a big happy family.  We all work together like we’re one, and it’s teamwork to the end.”

 

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