“Hal” grew up on Vancouver Island where he was raised by his great aunt and uncle. Before coming to us he was living with his grandmother who he has a great relationship with. The issue was that she lives in supportive housing and they only allow one resident to live there. When Hal came to Covenant House, we were told that he was very low functioning and possibly had FASD. He came to the Crisis Program on probation and his probation officer reiterated these concerns. The probation officer stated that his functioning is so low that it would be impossible for him to keep a job. She recommended cooking group and making sure he attends probation appointments.
When I first got acquainted with “Hal” he seemed somewhat low functioning. However, he quickly accomplished all the tasks set out for him including getting his birth certificate, connecting with a Career Zone case manager, and following his plan as well as any other resident does, if not better. Through my interactions with “Hal” I began to doubt other people’s suspicions of his abilities and decided that I would continue to treat him like any other youth and not doubt his ability to handle having a job.
It was with this attitude that I pushed him to follow-up with employers he was interested in until he finally landed an interview for a dishwashing job at a well-known East Vancouver restaurant. After a successful interview he was given some training shifts which he did well at and eventually landed the job. “Hal” has now been working at this job for a few weeks with no sign of quitting. He enjoys the job and it does not seem like it is beyond his physical and mental abilities. While a dishwashing job may seem like no great feat for most people, in this case it represents how encouragement and support can help to overcome doubts held by individuals and those around them.
Through this experience “Hal” has taught me that to judge someone based on other people’s expectations is to not give them the benefit of the doubt. One must truly push an individual to do all they can do before setting a bar for them. As “Hal” continues to reach higher, my goals for other youth become less dictated by potential barriers.
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