As her son approached the end of high school, Shelley Steeves’ worry creeped higher: What would his future look like?
Her son, Joe Steeves, has cerebral palsy and works to overcome the challenges it brings to his mobility and dexterity.
Shelley was used to being there all the time to help him when he needed it – as he hurtled into adulthood, she knew that would soon change.
But a call to Ability New Brunswick eased her worries, and helped Joe discover he could earn a living by doing something he loves.
“The best thing that could have ever happened to you was this,” Shelley says as the two chat about the journey.
“You wouldn’t have the knowledge, work experience, confidence or growth in social skills without Ability New Brunswick’s help.”
Just six months earlier, Shelley picked up the phone to find out what kind of support and programs would be available to Joe as a young adult looking to forge a future for himself.
A co-op program at Riverview High School introduced him to working at MacArthur’s Nurseries, and there he discovered his love for gardening, along with the warmth and reward of a supportive and inclusive workplace.
After graduating from high school, Ability New Brunswick suggested he would be a candidate for Access Ability, a wage-subsidy program funded by Service Canada and facilitated by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre.
That program allowed him to keep working at MacArthur’s, where he did so well that he was offered a permanent job. During a seasonal layoff, on his own initiative, Joe found another job working at Diddley-Squash Farm in Salisbury, N.B.
His skills and confidence have taken off. He has learned how to work independently, and realized the freedom behind driving himself back and forth to work. He’s even started up his own greenhouse and pergola at home.
“I’m just growing every day and Ability New Brunswick planted the seed,” says Joe, now 19. “They’ve helped me so much through this whole journey. It’s just been terrific.”