Article from Vegreville News Advertiser
Mayor Myron Hayduk is joined by Derek Christensen, an employment facilitator with EmployAbilities, and Sheila Jubenville (left) and Leticia Rivera-Rivera from Alberta Works. Hayduk was signing a proclamation marking December 3 the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Michael Simpson/Photo)
Disabilities can be inherited at birth, or handed to someone during the course of their life. They can come on gradually, frustratingly unstoppable through deteriorating health, or be delivered in an instant, horrific experience such as an automobile or sporting accident. They can be highly visible to the outside world, or undetectable to the naked eye.
However someone acquires them, they are a life-changing force to be reckoned with, every single day that person is living and breathing and trying to lead a normal life.
In Vegreville, Derek Christensen has long advocated for those with disabilities, having been born with arthrogryposis, a condition where certain joins in the body don’t have full mobility, or in some cases any mobility at all. As an employment facilitator with EmployAbilities, Christensen has spent the past few years in Vegreville working to help those with a disability find a way to be involved in the labour market in town. It’s not an easy task, as there’s often a stigma associated with people who suffer from disabilities as being hard to accommodate in the workplace, hard to train or unreliable when given taks – all notions he says are patently untrue.
“People with disabilities have proven to be among the most loyal and hardworking employees a business owner can have,” Christensen said. “What the majority of people don’t see in a worker with a disability is someone who is grateful to have a place back in society, someone who doesn’t take their status as a contributing member for granted. To many of the people I help find suitable employment that works with their disability, that job means having their self-respect back, their dignity.”
There will be an Open House on December 3rd at Alberta Works (5121 49 Street, Vegreville) from 10:30am-Noon. Employers are invited to come by, have discussions and gain inspiration on the benefits of becoming more inclusive workplace.