Real Life. Real Work. A Real Plan. by Paul Seale
Making the transition from student life to working life can be challenging, but Jon Sibley has a plan. You may have seen Jon at the Old East Village Grocer in recent weeks, stocking the shelves, making sandwiches, or running the cash, all things he learned at the store for credit while a grade 12 student at London Christian High School. “For students in grades 11 and 12 who are getting ready to go to work, they find out how to have a job and keep a job,” Jon says, “and there are so many opportunities here to learn different things.”
The Old East Village Grocer is a perfect match for Jon’s plan. A social enterprise operated by ATN Access for Persons with Disabilities, the store is a live classroom where people learn job skills and get ready for employment in the private sector.
Co-op coordinator Matthew Rock thinks a co-op can be a great motivator and self-esteem builder but also, “It’s an opportunity for students to discover their gifts and passions. When they start to recognize their own strengths and abilities, the impact can be massive.”
ATN job coach Paula Leighton agrees. “Jon’s made real progress in his time here. He’s really aware now that he’s in a work environment that’s different from school and, in his time at the front cash, we’ve all learned that he’s a really social, welcoming person.”
“I’m so glad I got to work the cash,” Jon agrees. “I really enjoy greeting people as they come into the store, getting to know them and finding out how I can help them.” Jon hopes to take that caring attitude forward and eventually work with seniors or children. It’s all part of the plan.