Jason's Story

Jason's Story

Following years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian and Micheline saw their son Jason was spending more and more time alone in his room, he wasn’t socializing with the children in the neighbourhood, and he wasn’t contributing to their conversations at home. 

So, when Jason first joined the YMCA as a Project SEARCH intern in September 2022, his father and stepmother were hopeful it would help him come out of his shell.  

Delivered in partnership with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), Project SEARCH helps young people with developmental or intellectual disabilities gain the skills they need for employment through a combination of classroom and hands on training in the workplace. Jason’s first internship was in the YMCA’s housekeeping department. 

“Through that internship I discovered that I like cleaning up the YMCA and it was also a lot of fun. I learned how to fold towels, how to sort and load the laundry machine, and how to clean the gyms,” says Jason. 

While Jason’s housekeeping skills don’t always translate into him cleaning at home, Brian says being part of the YMCA has helped him gain confidence and show initiative. “He’s getting up and getting ready to come to the Y. He’s doing that himself rather than us telling him.” 

Jason’s second internship took him to another location, but he requested a return to the YMCA for his third internship, saying the relationships he built here made him want to come back. 

Before the internship, Micheline says Jason would rarely participate in their conversations at home. 

“Now he actually takes part. We’re at the dinner table and he asks how our day was, we ask him how his day was, we discuss what he did at work.” 

With the help of YMCA’s housekeeping staff and Project SEARCH teachers, Jason was able to learn the more complex and detailed housekeeping tasks. Jason applied for a part-time housekeeping position at the YMCA and was hired in June. 

“It’s been great being part of the YMCA. There are a lot of friendly people and friendly faces, and they can help you if you’re stuck,” says Jason. 

Staff at the Y say Jason is energetic, enthusiastic, and brings laughter and joy to any space he is in. He has also been a helpful volunteer, giving his time at the YMCA Men’s Residence Dinner. 

Brian and Micheline are full of gratitude for the experiences Jason had at the YMCA and are excited to see their son thrive. 

“Watching him grow and be independent and turn into the man he is going to become — we couldn’t be prouder,” says Brian. “He’s spreading his wings on his own for the first time. He’s growing more and more every day.” 

 #TheYSavesLives #IgnitePotential #Community. 


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