New program at Ometz helps neurodivergent young adults navigate work and life
by Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren
On a snowy March day, in a brightly painted room at L’Annexe – the Ometz centre for young adults – Ashley Tevan-Long is talking with a group of neurodivergent young adults about how they can transform their passions into potential jobs. Tevan-Long is the coordinator for accès:succès, an ambitious new program launched in March, designed to help participants learn employment and social skills, as they work towards financial and professional independence.
The eight-week course includes a mix of hands-on activities, role playing, workshops and guest speakers. At the end, participants have the opportunity for a paid internship tailored to their interests and abilities. The program is free and open to the community.
“It’s really helpful for these young people to be able to practice things like job interviews, workplace etiquette and budgeting in a relaxed, safe space with their peers,” explained Tevan-Long. “As important as these employment skills are, though, my biggest goal is to help participants build confidence. When you feel pride in your abilities and ease in communicating, that resonates through every aspect of your life.”
Although part of Ometz, L’Annexe has its own state-of-the-art space within the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, and its programs and services cater specifically to people between 16 and 35. The open concept design includes a full kitchen, lounge, computer lab and foosball table. On any given day, people might drop by for an art class or a group therapy session or just to hang out. The informal setting is a reflection of the centre’s holistic approach to helping young adults become autonomous, engaged in community and empowered to discover their unique vision of success.
“A significant number of L’Annexe’s young adult clients are neurodivergent, and many are on the autism spectrum. We’re seeing a growing demand for services to help them bridge the gap between completing their studies and finding a job,” explained Susan Karpman, Ometz’s chief program officer. “With programs like accès:succès, we’re able to connect and support neurodivergent youth on their individual journeys into adulthood.”
This is just the first of what Tevan-Long hopes will be year-round cohorts of accès:succès, and the activities will evolve with each group to address their specific needs, goals and interests.
To learn more about the program, including how to register for the summer 2022 group, email Ashley.Tevan.Long@ometz.ca.
To find out more about L’Annexe, visit ometz.ca/lannexe. Agence Ometz is a Jewish human services agency offering social, employment and immigration services.
Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren is the senior communications and stewardship officer at Agence Ometz.