Roger Belanger is looking forward to working at a local grocery store.
The 18-year-old has finished up at Langley Secondary and last week began at Superstore under a new program in Langley.
The Langley Association for Community Living has created Youth Works, for young people with developmental disabilities in Grades 10-12.
Belanger is looking forward to learning new skills and earning income as he works part-time four days per week stocking shelves, removing waste, looking after recyclables, and doing general janitorial work around the store and its adminstrative areas.
Belanger had been looking for work for about a year before linking up with the new program.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to this. It's nice to finally get a job."
Finding work is a key issue for many with developmental disabilities but being able to get work is an important rite of passage for young people.
"Individuals will be provided with the required orientation, training support and coaching to ensure the student's success," explained Craig Dong, an employment consultant with the Langley Association for Community Living (LACL).
The program funded by the Vancouver Foundation and is administered by Partners In Employment (PIE) which is part of the Langley Association for Community Living. The PIE program includes the the Langley School District. It took about two months him this job. Having work is allowing Belanger to plan for his future.
"I don't want to sit at home and get lazy," he said.
A summer stint for work experience with the Canadian Museum of Flight showed him a possible career path and taught him that he enjoys working with and helping the public.
So now he's socking away his pay. The money allows him to do things with friends but will also be saved up for more schooling. Belanger said he'd like to take a janitorial program.
He said work will help keep his mind fresh and teach him new skills, and staying at home playing video games or doing other leisure pursuits holds no interest. Belanger joked that he'd be bored within a couple of days.
A job coach will be alongside Belanger and the other youth in the program and as the young people gain the skills needed to do the job for their employers, the job coach presence diminishes.
Dong is working to spread the word about this new program to potential employers and potential employees. He can be reached at the LACL, 604-532-9400 or www.langleyacl.com. Choose the link "Our services" then "Partners in Employment" to find out about this program and other LACL work-related offerings.