Innovative training program brings new hope to those with brain injury

The program was developed to help underemployed and unemployed individuals with brain injuries explore trades occupations.

It all started on a flight with the creative idea of ITA Apprenticeship Advisor Walter Sorokovsky, who was having a conversation with a staff member at Prince George Brain Injury Group: what if there were a trades training program for people experiencing brain injury?

Through support from ITA leadership and community partners, today, ITA is celebrating the results of this great idea; an innovative pilot Trades Exploration program in Prince George. Now in the last two weeks of the program, students spoke with media and the public about their experience during a special event at host training provider, College of New Caledonia (CNC).

The program, which is a first for British Columbia, was developed to help underemployed and unemployed individuals with brain injuries explore trades occupations. Since March, the eight participants – who had worked with PGBIG and were assessed for their ability to take part in the program – have had the chance to try a number of trades, including carpentry, automotive service technician, and professional cook.

“I’m excited that ITA could build something that creates a pathway for people with these challenges,” said Walter. “It’s really amazing how everything fell into place for this program and we were able to capitalize on our relationships to make this a reality.”

Before experiencing a brain injury in 2005, program participant Pat Weir lived a life on the go. Though he wanted to maintain that lifestyle after his injury, Pat understood his brain didn’t function as it once had. This realization left him feeling depressed and directionless in life.

“People change after a brain injury and lots of people don’t understand that,” Pat said. “People with brain injuries just think and process things differently than people without brain injuries.”

The Industry Training Authority and PGBIG partnered with the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) and CNC to fund and deliver this innovative 12-week pilot program.

“I wasn’t given the tools I needed at the beginning of life,” Pat said. “But it’s never too late to go back to school. I didn’t think it was possible. I thought I was helpless. This program has given me purpose and direction in life.”

On June 26, the students will graduate, with new hope for the future and opportunities ahead.

Click here to view the official news release. 

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