Reins of Freedom staff are (left to right): Destiny Lenhardt, Megan te Boekhorst, and Taylor Spencer. (Submitted photo)

Reins of Freedom staff are (left to right): Destiny Lenhardt, Megan te Boekhorst, and Taylor Spencer. (Submitted photo)

Workshop series starting for people with disabilities in Hope

Reins of Freedom leading free series focusing on basic lifeskills

A new program in Hope is offering up free workshops for people with disabilities.

Reins of Freedom opened up in May, out of Free Rein Associates, and has been welcoming residents through their doors and getting to know their clients.

“We have had a chance to test the waters and find an approach that really works well with Hope over the last six months,” says Megan te Boekhorst, acting supervisor for Reins of Freedom.

It’s given them the chance to focus on helping the individual on a one-on-one basis, and their small workshops are a perfect fit.

They start this Friday, Oct. 29 with a workshop on budgeting basics. The series continues each Friday and people can attend one, some or all of them if they wish. Other topics coming up include nutrition, stress management, and goal setting.

The program, and its workshop series, are open to anyone in the Hope area who has disabilities. There is no need to have a persons with disabilities status, te Boekhorst says. Anyone with a disability is able to self-identify and self-refer for the program.

A disability can be any visible or invisible, physical or emotional barrier to employment. Even the new emotional toll of the pandemic has become a barrier to many, she explains, and people struggling because of that particular stress are also welcome there.

Funded through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, this program will assist people with disabilities who are experiencing barriers to employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since they began operating in May, they have seen between 40 and 50 people come through the doors for various reasons. The door is open for anyone, and if there is a better resource out there, staff will help them find it.

“No door is the wrong door,” te Boekhorst says.

She said the workshops could be repeated for those who miss out this time around, and that more topics could be added in the future to meet the needs of their clients.

She’s excited to lead the budgeting basics workshop, which will walk participants through a mock exercise of shopping for a first apartment, making decisions on budgeting.

“It’s very interactive and hopefully a fun approach,” she says.

Nutrition will look at how to get the best food with a limited budget, and some meal planning that will set participants up for a healthy diet. The stress management workshop will teach participants more about stress and how to identify it, to be better able to deal with it.

Finally, goal setting will tie into the new year, and break down how to set realistic and worthwhile goals.

Overall, te Boekhorst says the workshops are a wonderful way to start re-socializing again, and in small, safe groups. The room they hold the workshops in are limited to six people. With two staff in the room, there is room for four participants only.

Everyone who participates takes home a bagged lunch at the end of the day. Each workshop starts at 1 p.m. on Fridays.

Reins of Freedom is designed to support those living with all types of disabilities, running until March 31, 2022. The goal is to assist people in a successful transition from unemployment to full-time employment. To do so, the program will assist clients in navigating all forms of barriers to employment by facilitating access to services already established within the community, from housing to mental health support to skills training.

“By addressing individual barriers one at a time, we’ll be able to help people with disabilities secure work so they can ultimately find their freedom and stability,” said Peter Bailey, Director of Free Rein Associates.

Approximately one in five Canadians reported living with a disability in 2017, including long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments, according to Statistic Canada. Of Canadians with disabilities, 41 per cent are unemployed compared to 20 per cent of those without disabilities in 2017. In terms of severity, 76 per cent of those with mild disabilities were employed, whereas 31 per cent of those with very severe disabilities were employed.

Visit Reins of Freedom Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 895A Third Avenue.

READ MORE: Chilliwack teen with severe disabilities is a true super hero


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