Welcome to new member: Canucks Autism Network! Spotlighting them this week not only as new members but also as April is World Autism Month. Since 2014, the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) has been delivering programs to individuals on the autism spectrum and providing training to increase autism acceptance in our Kelowna community. Their vision is for every Autistic individual to be understood, accepted, and supported in all community spaces.
These efforts extend to increase inclusive hiring as CAN is an official delivery partner of the Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) program, a national initiative that engages, educates and supports employers to increase their inclusive hiring practices. In the past year, CAN has worked with dozens of Kelowna businesses to connect them with Autistic job seekers and those with intellectual disabilities. You can learn more about the business benefits of inclusive hiring by connecting with them at canucksautism.ca/rwa or email Employment Engagement Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org (pictured).
What is something you wish you knew when you first began your organization?
The Okanagan business community has been so welcoming and receptive to the benefits of inclusive hiring. It has been fantastic getting to know the many businesses doing exciting work. More importantly, it has been so encouraging to see first-hand how job seekers on the autism spectrum and with intellectual disabilities can thrive in our local workplaces.
What is something people might not know about your business?
In our early years, CAN was primarily a sports & rec organization for children. However, as we enter our 8th year in Kelowna, we have grown up with our participants. CAN recognizes the need for programs and services that support their adult independence and community engagement. In particular, we believe that every Autistic adult has the right to meaningful employment. Our work through the Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) program has allowed us to showcase the many talents and contributions that adults on the autism spectrum and with intellectual disabilities are capable of.
What are you looking forward to/planning for the future?
I can’t wait to help more and more employers and businesses in Kelowna and surrounding area learn the business benefits of inclusive hiring. For example, 99% of nation-wide businesses who have been involved with Ready, Willing & Able have reported their hires as either average or above-average in their contributions to the workplace. The current prevalence of autism in BC is now 1 in 29. The need for accessibility in the workplace extends to those on the autism spectrum, as well as those with intellectual disabilities. Inclusion makes our community better as a whole.