On December 1, Conestoga received a Five-Year Recognition Award from Dolphin Digital Technologies and the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin for its ongoing participation in an initiative known as Disabilities Mentoring Day (DMD). The award was presented at an event held at Wilfrid Laurier University to mark DMD’s five-year anniversary.
Charlie Matjanec, employment advisor with Conestoga’s Accessibility Services, holds the recognition award presented to the college on December 1 for its ongoing participation in Disabilities Mentoring Day.
DMD creates opportunities for job seekers with disabilities to connect and interact with employers interested in sourcing this often untapped pool of talent. Student mentees are paired with organizations that reflect their skill-sets and career interests; the students benefit from new learning experiences while employers learn that accommodating a disabled person in the workplace is neither costly nor complicated.
Charlie Matjanec, employment advisor with Conestoga’s Accessibility Services, accepted the award on behalf of the college and was recognized for his efforts in supporting students with disabilities. Over the past five years, he has successfully recruited 38 students to participate in DMD.
During the event, Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, sent congratulations via video link on behalf of the provincial government to participating employers, student mentees and others involved in the organization of DMD. Waterloo mayor Dave Jaworsky shared greetings and congratulations on behalf of the City of Waterloo and David McMurray, vice president, Student Affairs at Laurier provided opening remarks and also offered his personal congratulations.
Fourteen Conestoga students participated in the 2015 DMD, which took place on October 28. Feedback from both employers the participating students was overwhelmingly positive. D2L mentored Bachelor of Design Co-op student Candice Ramnanan who also worked with Dolphin Digital Technologies to create the DMD promotional materials and design the artwork for the recognition award.
“Candice is a bright and talented young woman who was able to achieve results beyond my expectations,” said Jamie Burton of Dolphin Digital Technologies at the recognition event. “Her work is professional and I was proud to have had the opportunity to observe for myself what she was able to accomplish with such great skill, attention to detail and with minimal direction from me.”
Students from other programs - including Business Administration - Management, Electrical Engineering Technology, Woodworking and Health Office Administration - also participated in DMD and said it made an enormous difference and has boosted their confidence in applying for jobs. Mentors represented both public and private sector employers in business offices, shop floors, municipal services and community agency settings throughout Kitchener and Waterloo.
Recreation and Leisure student Leasa Fetter mentored with Traverse Independence - an agency that provides services to people with brain injuries: “I loved the experience. I’ve worked with children and seniors, but this opened up new placement opportunities for me.”
The Waterloo Region Police Services mentored Bachelor of Community and Criminal Justice student Kim Richer. “I had an awesome day. It was a great opportunity to be in a real-world setting and see the different jobs that are available in my field."
Richer and the other students who participated in DMD also appreciated the support of teachers who made accommodations for them to be away from class for the day.
Conestoga is committed to providing a safe and accessible environment for students with disabilities. Accommodating disabilities at the college is a shared responsibility between students, faculty and administration. The support services provided by Accessibility Services allow students to pursue their college education in a way that respects their dignity, encourages independence in their academic pursuits and promotes full participation in the college community.
Visit Conestoga’s Accessibility Services’ website for more information.