WAVE program full of laughter, learning and life skills
Posted on Monday, February 3, 2020
Every Tuesday and Friday, a unique group of apprentices arrives at Roger Guindon Hall at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine for a two-hour work shift.
The apprentices are adults living with developmental disabilities. Their work is to provide the valuable service of filling boxes with pipette tips for every lab’s ubiquitous instrument, the pipettor.
“We’re very proud to host the apprentices here as part of the WAVE-Tips program, and very grateful for the work that they do,” says Dr. Laura Trinkle-Mulcahy, associate professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Director of the Common Equipment and Technical Services (CETS) core facility, who coordinates the Faculty’s involvement in the program.
The WAVE-Tips program is part of the larger WAVE Ottawa program, a work and recreation program for adults with special needs.
WAVE—which stands for Work and Volunteer Experience—provides opportunities for its participants, called apprentices, to gain work skills and build up their résumés through volunteer work placements at local businesses, under the supervision of WAVE job coaches. Begun in 2013 by a parent of a child with autism, it is run through the Dovercourt Recreation Centre in west Ottawa.
Outside their work placements, apprentices have fun playing sports, and participate in social outings and interpersonal interactions, a challenge for most apprentices. Most importantly, the program builds a sense of purpose and community in the lives of the apprentices.
“Having that sense of purpose and community is vital to the overall quality of life for any adult, especially those facing barriers of employment and living with a developmental disability,” says WAVE program coordinator Caitlin Booth
Not only do the apprentices love their work at the Faculty, they love simply being here. “It’s a big and important building,” says Booth, and they enjoy having their lunch in the cafeteria surrounded by other people at the Faculty, who they describe as “really nice.”
“They also learn the skill of setting personal goals,” says Booth. “They love the repetitive task of filling the boxes, and enjoy challenging themselves to see how many they can complete in a shift.”
The apprentices’ work saves valuable time for the Faculty’s researchers. Participating labs bring empty boxes and bags of tips and help set up workstations, providing a day’s work for the WAVE team.
“We value the trust the Faculty has in our work and they make us feel very appreciated,” says Booth. “We have always felt welcomed and a part of the uOttawa team since day one.”
To thank the apprentices for their hard work, the participating labs from the Faculty donated money, and the Research Office gifts, for a holiday party this past December, which was enjoyed by all.
Booth says the program is opening minds and hearts in the community. It’s also educating employers that hiring inclusively has many benefits, ranging from raising staff morale and sense of purpose by working alongside of people with developmental disabilities, to special skills that many people with disabilities have to offer.
The Faculty of Medicine and its researchers are proud to be a partner in this important community program—truly a win-win for all.
If you are a parent/guardian interested in enrolling someone in WAVE, there is currently a waitlist; however, you are encouraged to reach out with any questions and to learn more about the program. All inquiries can be emailed to Caitlin Booth, WAVE Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: Karly Anderson