Viability Employment Services was formed by three high school students, after the current Chair noticed not only the systemic barriers present in society for neurodiverse individuals but also the limitless potential of neurodiverse individuals to live and participate meaningfully.
During April 2017, our Chair was fortunate enough to aid in the administration of a youth social and leadership program for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Through this program, she supported youth through social excursions, leadership-activities and co-op placements. Working with the program participants allowed her to really see the immense capabilities of neurodiverse individuals. However, despite their skills, after speaking to some of the program participants on their experiences, she learned about the overwhelming trend in the correlation between disability and unemployment. After going home and doing some research, she further found that less than half of individuals with disabilities have jobs, with the estimated rate being even lower for those with developmental disabilities (Statistics Canada, 2014). Reflecting on her own experiences growing up, she realized how neurodiverse youth rarely have access to the same leadership and employment opportunities that neurotypical youth do. Thus she decided that she had to do something to make a change. After contacting several other youth in the Markham community with skills in website development, business and finance and digital marketing, Viability was formed.
Ultimately, our team hopes to contribute to a movement wherein society sees neurodiverse individuals as capable and recognizes that although they may be different, they are not less. Neurodiverse individuals should not just be tolerated, but accepted and recognized for all the unique strengths they can bring to the table.