The staff at Cinéma Cartier understand the aspirations of students in the adapted learning “Challenges” program at Québec High School and have offered a meaningful and fulfilling stage (work placement) to Dylan Brown, who has impressed them with his work ethic and constant improvement. They always have a great day when Dylan comes to work.
There aren’t many social integration opportunities for Anglophones in Québec City’s business community, but luckily the Québec High School (QHS) Challenges program has some family connections. The manager of Cinéma Cartier, Gabrielle Soucy, had volunteered at social events with special needs students when she was a student at QHS. Her mother, Susy Meisels, is Dylan’s special needs technician. Susy asked Gabrielle about Dylan doing his stage at Cinéma Cartier.
Cinéma Cartier is a community-oriented theatre providing a variety of movies, including English films. Its owner, Yvan Fontaine, wasn’t sure at first—he was afraid that Dylan was not going to have much fun. Gabrielle explained that the maintenance tasks that she had planned for Dylan would be new to him, and he would learn valuable skills. When the owner saw how much Dylan loved his stage, he embarked on the journey.
Dylan is in his fifth year in the Challenges programme and completed a previous stage at Provigo where his task was “facing”—making sure all the labels on the items are facing the customers.
Gabrielle interviewed Dylan before creating his personalized list of tasks, which consist of cleaning the tables and chairs, mopping the floors, and vacuuming. He has learned to clean tables without leaving streaks and how to use a vacuum cleaner in tricky places like the stairs. Now he can use these skills at home, too.
At Cinéma Cartier his work team includes Gabrielle’s brother, Dominick, and Susy, who always accompanies him when he is at work. Surrounded by this supportive environment, Dylan loves his stage.
Learning social skills is the most important part of this stage.
When Dylan arrives for work the staff say, “Hi” and are keen to interact with him. They help make him feel comfortable, so that he can improve social skills such as greeting and chatting. He feels very proud of his job and knows that his team is also proud of his accomplishments. Susy takes photos of Dylan performing his tasks for his portfolio, which he can show his parents and remind himself of all the things he has learned to do.
Dylan’s schedule alternates between shorter and longer work days. On longer days when he is there before a movie is screened, he also helps with filling the popcorn bags and says “hello” to the patrons.
The kids feel so proud of their work, and the positive reinforcement increases their self-worth.
There are four other students in Dylan’s program. One helps in the school’s kitchen and another is a mailman, distributing mail from the secretary’s desk into staff mail slots. The other two students are still new to the program.
The Challenges program staff places as many students as possible in stages. Right now, Dylan is having “the time of his life.”
Challenges: An Educational Approach that Facilitates Social Integration
The Challenges program is adapted curriculum aimed at fostering the social integration of students aged 16 to 21 who have moderate to severe intellectual impairments. Its aim is the development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are essential for integration into society. For these adolescents, community living and preparing for the job market are areas of top priority.
The learning content for Social Integration includes Personal and Social Education and Preparing for the Job Market (On-the-Job Work Placements: Appearance, Work Organization, Initiative, Functional Relationships with Co-workers, Reliability and Punctuality, and Efficiency).
To view the Challenges program PDF online click here.