Kaitlyn Layden knows how to use her talents for speaking and writing to advocate for herself and others.
The Saint John resident has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair but she does not allow physical challenges to get in the way of expressing her thoughts on the state of accessibility in New Brunswick and many other issues.
Kaitlyn relies on Ability New Brunswick to help navigate the paths to assistance and support in New Brunswick.
When Kaitlyn had the opportunity to secure a contract at New Brunswick Community College working as a research assistant and advising on accessibility issues, a transition planner was able to help see it through.
The planner assisted Kaitlyn sharpen her resume and cover letter, which led to an offer. The job required a wage subsidy so Kaitlyn’s planner connected her with Working NB and an employment counsellor, who was able to land the subsidy.
“I definitely rely on Ability New Brunswick for their resources and knowledge of what’s out there,” Kaitlyn says.
“I am very fortunate to be able to apply the disability lens at work. There are some accessibility grants that a lot of workplaces don’t know about and I can help fill in those gaps. But if I don’t know something, I can go to Ability New Brunswick and say, ‘This is an issue. What resources are available?’”
Kaitlyn often writes articles for the New Brunswick Media Co-op and she is a member of Toastmasters, where she is honing her public speaking skills. The subjects of her articles and speeches have included the shortcomings of provincial social assistance programs, the poverty loop and the housing crisis.
It was her strong, thoughtful writing on disability issues that first caught the attention of her current employer, the NBCC.
“I find it very therapeutic,” she says. “I get angry about a situation and it either becomes a speech or an article and sometimes both.”