Danielle Juilfs is one exceptionally busy young lady.
When she’s not serving as an ambassador for the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation, working at DSRF’s front desk, or winning medals in multiple Special Olympics sports, she can often be found walking the aisles of Loblaw City Market – her workplace of four-and-a-half years.
After completing school, Danielle enrolled in an employment preparation program at Capilano University. There, she received training in general work skills, resume writing and job expectations, and engaged in temporary placements to gain experience. Meanwhile, her father Jim was taking her to his office regularly, where Danielle worked with office staff to complete basic clerical duties. She also learned and practiced various bus routes in order to become comfortable traveling independently.
When she was ready to take on the working world, Danielle connected with posAbilities, an employment service agency that assists with placements for those with special needs. posAbilities provided additional training, as well as assistance with interviews and job searches.
Jim is quick to recommend such services to families preparing to transition their adult children to the workplace. "Begin the process early and take advantage of the services offered for work experience and job training. Expose your child to many different experiences for work and in life in general to prepare them to handle challenges and change. Keep in mind, it’s important to enjoy the work as well as being capable of performing the duties."
Indeed, Danielle enjoys her position at City Market, which she landed quite quickly after beginning her job hunt. In her current role she stocks and organizes shelves, ensures products are facing outwards, and checks the expiry dates of products.
Danielle is thriving in her role, with the only significant hurdle being her small stature. "Some items are heavy to lift," she admits. "It’s hard to reach some items on higher shelves."
Fortunately, her colleagues are quick to lend a hand when necessary. "There was been some job coaching at the start, but the store staff have taken her on quite willingly and provided the training and supervision she needed," says Jim.
Danielle’s friendly personality is perfectly suited for a job with lots of social interaction. "I love working with my colleagues and meeting people in the store," she says.
"She is very social and enjoys working with others," affirms Jim. "She has really blossomed as an individual. She takes pride in her job, being involved in the community and having responsibilities."
Looking to the future, Danielle aspires to work in other departments of the store. "Especially the bakery," she emphasizes.
As busy as it is juggling Danielle’s full schedule, "it is nice knowing she is being active and engaged in something productive," says Jim. "She is becoming more independent, which is critical as she moves forward for when we are no longer able to provide help."
Danielle certainly sees the value in it. "The job has made me more responsible, follow a routine and be on time. I take pride in having a job. I feel honoured to have a chance to work."
The Inclusive Employment Success Story series is co-presented by the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation and Canadian Down Syndrome Society. Check the DSRF blog and CDSS website from June 10-20, 2019 for additional stories.