Vocational program

Loading ice into a freezer on a day when the windchill outside has hit -33C, David Fodchuk is not the kind of employee to shirk his duty.

David Fodchuk stocks ice at the south Sobey’s store. He’s part of Red Deer College’s transitional vocational program.

David Fodchuk stocks ice at the south Sobey’s store. He’s part of Red Deer College’s transitional vocational program.

Loading ice into a freezer on a day when the windchill outside has hit -33C, David Fodchuk is not the kind of employee to shirk his duty.

If there is something to be done, he does it with a smile. If there is nothing to do, he finds something.

A graduate of the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College, he now works at Sobeys on the southside of Red Deer.

Fodchuk has a developmental disability but it hasn’t slowed him down. He has gone from being a courtesy clerk at Sobeys, helping customers with their groceries, shovelling snow and collecting carts, to stocking the freezer shelves with ice cream, gluten-free products and ice. When things are slow there, he’ll help stock grocery shelves.

It’s a level of independence that likely wouldn’t have happened without a special program for people with developmental disabilities at Red Deer College. The Transitional Vocational Program has been operating at the college since 1981 and it gives students not only the skills they need to work, but also the opportunities to live a full life.

The 20 students who attend the program each year have everything from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder to autism, cerebral palsy or other unidentified conditions that have meant regular classes have been a challenge for them.

Students who are chosen for the program have their tuition, books and supplies paid for by the Skills Investment Strategy through Alberta Employment and Immigration. Those not collecting AISH also receive money for lodgings and other living costs.

For Fodchuk, the program meant moving from his family’s home in Beaumont to Red Deer and living at a townhouse near RDC. He learned what it was like to have roommates and got to explore all that Red Deer has to offer, going to hockey games, swimming at the Collicutt Centre and seeing plays.

“We really work with our students as whole people,” said Janice Findlay, program chairperson. “So as whole people, I mean we work on a number of areas beyond the employability skills.”

Now at age 22 and a couple of years out of the program, Fodchuk lives in a fourplex in Eastview, where his speciality dish is spaghetti and his team of choice is the Edmonton Oilers. He plays on a Special Olympics baseball team and curls.

The owner/operator of Sobeys south, Trevor Aslin only has good things to say about Fodchuk and the RDC program.

“I think the nicest thing about having David (Fodchuk) on staff is that he just takes ownership in what he is doing,” Aslin said.

One recent morning, Fodchuk was busily working in one of the grocery aisles. Aslin asked why he was in grocery and not the freezer department and Fodchuk said, “My ice cream order hasn’t shown up.”

Aslin was impressed that Fodchuk didn’t say his boss’s ice cream order or the store’s, but took ownership in what he was doing. “It’s nice to have people who are that motivated. They own the position so that is refreshing at any level, whether it’s the owner, the second-in-command or the general employee,” Aslin said.

He said the Transitional Vocational Program has been a good experience for the store with management learning as much about themselves and their management skills as the students have learned in the work experience positions they have done.

Findlay said the program helps students gain independence and interpersonal skills. Guest speakers come in to tell students about safety in the home and at work and talk about employment standards. Students learn about managing their finances and about cheap entertainment in town.

Each week during the 10-month program, participants spend two days in class and three days doing work experience, helping prep food at restaurants, stock shelves at stores, pre-trades, cinemas and clothing stores. The goal is for them to find paid employment by the end of the program in May.

The program also offers a wide range of night school courses for others not in the main program, looking at math and money, healthy relationships and other topics.

For Fodchuk, the program has made all the difference in him having an independent life with his many friends in the community and having a job he enjoys.

“Most of it is pretty easy now,” he said. “It’s fun. I like it.”

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

City council wants to hear from the public at a May 25 hearing about whether the temporary homeless shelter should be allowed to remain in the downtown for another year. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer staff to recommend another extension to allow operations at current temporary shelter site

Following some more research city administration has received no other new locations… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer was packed with people who lined the streets to watch the Westerner Days parade on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Westerner Days parade cancelled, full details on modified event coming June 28

The 2021 edition of Westerner Days will look much different than any… Continue reading

Residents in several neighbourhoods reported little to no water pressure Tuesday night. (File photo by Advocate staff)
City hall to reopen for payments and customer service

Red Deer City Hall will reopen on June 21 for utility and… Continue reading

Char Rausch was selected as this year’s recipient of the Bob Stollings Award, which goes to an employee who has displayed outstanding civic performance in alignment with The City’s Cornerstone Values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
Char Rausch wins City of Red Deer Bob Stollings Award

The City of Red Deer is honouring employees differently this year. With… Continue reading

The new Canada 150 Square, located along Riverwalk in Capstone.
Red Deer’s Capstone to host unique Father’s Day celebration

Capstone is inviting Red Deer residents to enjoy Father’s Day by the… Continue reading

Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bland leads at Torrey and shows the US Open is truly open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open prides itself on being the most… Continue reading

The Prime Minister's car waits outside the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he'll release unredacted documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory — despite the prospect of being publicly shamed in the House of Commons for his refusal to turn them over. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
PHAC head maintains he’s bound by law not to release docs on fired scientists

OTTAWA — The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is… Continue reading

Various vaping nicotine e-liquids or "juice" are shown in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 16, 2019. The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products… Continue reading

A supporter of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a sign during a rally in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Iran's clerical vetting committee has allowed just seven candidates for the Friday, June 18, ballot, nixing prominent reformists and key allies of President Hassan Rouhani. The presumed front-runner has become Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line judiciary chief who is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran votes in presidential poll tipped in hard-liner’s favor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, and President Seiko Hashimoto attend the news conference after receiving a report from a group of infectious disease experts on Friday, June 18, 2021, in Tokyo. The experts including Shigeru Omi, head of a government coronavirus advisory panel, issued a report listing the risks of allowing the spectators and the measurements to prevent the event from triggering a coronavirus spread. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)
Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is… Continue reading

FILE - In this June 12, 2021, file photo, Rajkumar Haryani, 38, who painted his body to create awareness about vaccination against the coronavirus poses for photographs after getting a dose of Covishield vaccine in Ahmedabad, India. Starting June 21, 2021, every Indian adult can get a COVID-19 vaccine dose for free that was purchased by the federal government. The policy reversal announced last week ends a complex system of buying vaccines that worsened inequities in accessing vaccines. India is a key global supplier of vaccines and its missteps have left millions of people waiting unprotected. The policy change is likely to address inequality but questions remain and shortages will continue. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Starting Monday, every adult in India will be… Continue reading

Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance speaks during a news conference to , in Ottawa Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Freeze promotions until military commanders are screened for misconduct: Committee

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee has called for a freeze on all… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Hussen says he is looking to municipalities to reshape local rules to more quickly build units through the government's national housing strategy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Cities should redo planning, permitting to align with housing strategy, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of affordable housing says he… Continue reading

Most Read