RRC to launch pilot program providing educational opportunities for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities

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From left: Melanie Wight (MLA, Burrows); Manitoba Finance Minister Jennifer Howard; RRC President Stephanie Forsyth; and Wescan Capital President Peter Jessiman.

A new pilot program at Red River College this fall will provide individuals with intellectual disabilities full access to post-secondary educational opportunities and a successful transition into the workforce.

The 20-student Transforming Futures program will begin in September 2014, and will include hands-on learning in career exploration, essential employability skills and full integration into RRC programming if a student chooses this option. Students will complete classes leading to their certification, which will help them get ready for future employment.

“Red River College’s vision aligns with the goals of this program: to enable all students to build a career, enhance quality of life and contribute to Manitoba’s economic and social prosperity through exceptional applied education and research,” says RRC President Stephanie Forsyth. “This is the largest college in the province, and we are uniquely positioned to deliver accessible, innovative programming for students with intellectual disabilities. With the financial support of the province – and support of community champions and private donors – this pilot project is ready for launch.”

The 2013 Assuring Income Security and Equality for Canadians with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families report from the Canadian Association for Community Living estimated that 70 per cent of adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed or out of the labour force, and are three times more likely than non-disabled Canadians to live in poverty.

“Training opportunities are essential in transforming an individual’s inherent talents and interests into marketable skills,” said Jobs and the Economy Minister Theresa Oswald. “Removing barriers and increasing accessibility to education is one key way to ensure Manitobans with intellectual have the opportunity to take part and further strengthen the work force.”

“This new program is an excellent way to improve accessibility to education while supporting individuals as they learn and grow,” says Finance Minister Jennifer Howard, the minister responsible for persons with disabilities. “Once students complete the program, they will be better qualified and will have more opportunities to join the workforce and build a strong future.”

The provincial government is providing $266,000 to support the pilot program, which will be delivered through RRC’s School of Continuing Education. Registration for the new program will begin on June 9, 2014.

Click here for more information on Transforming Futures at RRC.