Young people living with disability can face a lot of challenges as they leave school and start looking for a job. Everything from having the basic skills to enter the workforce, to sitting down with a potential employer for a job interview, and catching the bus to work can all impact on a young person’s ability to achieve their goals. Novita’s Transition to Work program supports young people living with disability to get job ready through learning important skills, gaining work experience, and improving social and communication skills.
22-year-old Emily Harman has joined the Transition to Work team to gain some work experience and act as a mentor for the young people entering the program.
Emily, who lives with cerebral palsy and was a Novita client throughout her childhood, understands just how important it is to mentor and support young people living with disability when they’re transitioning from school to work.
“If I had met myself 10 years ago it would have changed my life. I felt so alone, I felt excluded from school and friendship circles – I would have loved to have a mentor,” says Emily, who was named the City of Playford’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2018.
“I think as a young adult living with disability I can offer things to children and young people that maybe someone who hasn’t had the life experiences I have had can’t pass on.
“Being a young person living with disability is hard. You have all the issues and challenges that everyone else has, and then you add a disability on to it.”
Emily says she was badly bullied at school, and missed a lot of school time because of surgeries and rehabilitation, which meant she didn’t really have an opportunity to build close friendship groups.
“Dealing with bullying and growing into yourself are important issues that I can support young people with, along with things like catching public transport and using humour to connect with people,” she says.
“I would like mentoring to be my career path. I really understand how difficult it is for young people living with disability to find a job after leaving school, but I haven’t let that hold me back and I’m excited to be part of the Transition to Work program.”
Novita’s Transition to Work coordinator Jessica Zakelj says Emily – who has a Certificate 3 in disability support work – has joined the program in a mentoring role, and will also learn support worker skills.
“Emily is already catching the train with a couple of our young people and has made some great connections in the group, and that’s working out really well,” says Jessica.
“She’s also learning the skills and knowledge needed to be a Disability Support Worker, which is quite a varied role at Novita because we support kids, young people and adults living with a range of disabilities.
“We want to identify Emily’s strengths so we can help her gain employment as a Disability Support Worker with an ultimate aim of hiring her within the Transition to Work team.”