Community connections forged
Lisa Bailey

Edward’s long-time participation in posAbilities’ Eco-Rangers has revealed to him keys to productive relationships and his own strengths.

Explaining that he is part of a crew that collects recyclable materials from businesses around Vancouver, Edward says he wants to help people out with a practice that benefits the environment.

He says communication and co-operation are important in his work, which he does about four to five hours a day five days a week.

“You have to talk to each other, listen to the boss so you know what to put into the bag and what to sort,” Edward says.

He adds that he enjoys performing the physical tasks as well as the social component.

“I like to work with other people,” Edward says.

An environmentally-focused program supported by the community, Eco-Rangers provides job training, education and recreation. Individuals gain work experience, prepare for full- or part-time employment, and gain self-confidence and social skills.

In addition to Eco-Rangers’ recycling program, Edward has been acquiring skills through the Ladybug Art Garden.

This posAbilities social enterprise provides yard, garden and maintenance services. Individuals develop the skills necessary to become employed as yard and garden workers.

Edward says he likes woodworking and currently enjoys making garden boxes.

Day support worker Donna Bell says she has seen Edward grow as an individual in the three years she has worked with him.

Social interaction with peers and community members have built upon connections Edward has made in other ways, such as through his involvement in Special Olympics.

“He’ll help anyone do anything if he possibly can,” Donna says.

“If he sees somebody struggling, he’s right there to help.”

Donna notes, for example, that Edward steps in to assist one of his peers, who has challenges speaking English.

“Because Edward and this gentleman have been working together for so long, Edward understands everything that he says so he’ll interpret things for you so that you have a better understanding,” Donna says.

Edward also provides direction to peers and watches out for their well-being.

“Edward is definitely a leader and always concerned about others’ safety,” Donna says.

Interaction with community members has helped Edward and other people supported by Eco-Rangers to widen their social network and develop new friendships.

“It gives them a perspective that you don’t have to be alone out in the world. And just be yourself and people will accept you for who you are,” Donna says.

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