Be Inspired

Cheryl’s Story


How Person Directed Planning Works!

This post, shared with us by KW Habilitation, takes us on a journey with Cheryl towards finding fulfilling employment; a workplace where she enjoys what she does, where she can form positive connections with her co-workers, and where she is recognized for her abilities. Her personal skills and the support of those around her helped her achieve that goal. Well done to Cheryl, and thanks to KWHab for sharing her story with us!

“Using Person Directed Planning (PDP), Ontario community agencies collaborate with natural and community-based supports to help adults with an intellectual disability meet their individual, independently chosen needs and goals. KW Habilitation is thrilled to have had the opportunity, along with the Participatory Action Research team, to create a comic style product to share Cheryl’s story highlighting the success of PDP.


Cheryl Part 1

Cheryl was an employee at a restaurant in Waterloo, ON, working in a food prep position from April 2002 until June 2008. Cheryl enjoyed her job very much and made some long term connections with her co-workers.


Cheryl Part 2In June of 2008, the location she was working at changed ownership and quickly many of the staff that Cheryl had built solid working relationships with, including management, resigned. New management/staff were brought in, causing many changes in work dynamics and the way that Cheryl was used to doing her job. Cheryl became frustrated with the changes and felt anxious about going to work. Cheryl sought out the support of KW Habilitation (KWH) Employment Supports about her frustrations. With the support of her family, friends and KWH, who know Cheryl, listen to her and are committed to her happiness and success, she decided it was time to resign and look for another job.


Cheryl Part 2.5

Cheryl knew the process for finding a new job could be challenging, but she was determined to find new employment.

During the process she focused on the things that she enjoyed doing, such as volunteering as an office assistant at Cystic Fibrosis and Meals on Wheels, participating in Sports for Special Athletes (power lifting, bowling and soft ball), and maintaining her social network with friends.


Cheryl Part 3In January 2009 she got the break she had been waiting for. Through her employment supports at KWH she was able to secure an interview and accepted a position at Wilfred Laurier University working for the WLU Students’ Union in the campus food court. She was responsible for cleaning tables, taking out garbage/recycling and filling drink orders for all the businesses in the food court. Cheryl embraced the new position, made new connections and had a great sense of belonging in her new work community.


However, in May of 2011, all staff was given notice that a new company was contracted to run and make changes to
the food court. Everyone, including previous management, would be losing their jobs. Cheryl was devastated by this news. She loved her job and the people she worked with, and this time she didn’t have the option to resign; she was being let go. It was back to the drawing board for Cheryl, but she kept her chin up and pushed forward, continuing to do all the things she enjoyed doing all the while looking for a new job with the help of her employment supports.


Cheryl Part 5In September 2011, her employment supports discovered that the new owners of the food court at the University were hosting a job fair and were hiring for many positions. Her support system followed through with helping Cheryl to prepare for the job fair and encouraged Cheryl along the way. Cheryl attended the job fair with her employment supports to submit her resume. At the job fair Cheryl was happy to see some of her previous co-workers, who had re-applied and had since been rehired with the new company. These co-workers who knew Cheryl advocated on Cheryl’s behalf to the new company, and requested she be rehired. Cheryl received an interview and was offered employment in the same role she previously held.


Cheryl Part 6Cheryl has been working at Aramark Food Services at Wilfred Laurier University ever since. Over the course of the last few years Cheryl has taken on new responsibilities and roles at her job due to her excellent work ethic, efficiency and team work. Cheryl has also submitted ideas and suggestions to her workplace Health and Safety Committee. She has also been a two time recipient of the employee of the month award during her total work tenure at the food court at Wilfred Laurier University.


Cheryl continues to stay busy outside of work as she is still involved in Sports for Special Athletes, where she participates in power lifting, bowling and softball. Over the last few summers, Cheryl has also taken on tennis as a new sport, which has become a passion of hers. Cheryl is also a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) fanatic and organizes pay per view events with her friends.

Cheryl lives successfully on her own, with her bird, and receives support through KWH Supported Independent Living. She does her own grocery shopping at Central Fresh Market and has made natural connections with employees of the grocery store from being a regular customer over the tears. Cheryl also does her own budgeting and with the assistance of her KWH Direct Support Professional she is able to enjoy the things that are most important to her.

Anyone that knows Cheryl would agree that she has amazing enthusiasm and connects with people very easily. She is very vocal about what she wants, as well as what she doesn’t want, and is an active participant in the process of achieving the goals she sets for herself. Cheryl says “my supports have helped me achieve the goals that I have set for myself and I feel confident that they will continue to support me when I have new goals.”

Through this story telling process, Cheryl clearly identified that a support system that knows you, listens to you, is committed to you and does what they say they will do, makes person directed planning work!”

Cheryl Part 7

To see the full comic, click here.

July 11th, 2016

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