Deven Stewart standing in a kitchen with food on the table beside him

Transition to Work program helps Deven find work, career path

Deven Stewart is ready for his next chapter after he graduates from Oromocto High School in June. Thanks to Transition to Work, a program that helps high school students with intellectual disabilities get workforce-ready, he’s already combined his passions for hockey and people into a part-time job providing connections, experience and inspiration for his future.

“I want to do something in the sports field,” says Deven, 19.

He dreams of working with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his favourite team. Meanwhile, he’s been building his CV as the assistant equipment manager for the University of New Brunswick Reds women’s hockey team.

He credits Transition to Work for getting him there.

“If it wasn’t for that program, I don’t know how I would get to where I am today,” he says.

Valuable job and life skills

Deven started Transition Work in Grade 10. The program, offered by Inclusion NB, helps students participate in New Brunswick’s workforce by pairing them with a Transition Facilitator who works with them to build job readiness skills, and connect them to experiential learning opportunities. He’s built a successful track record with a summer job at the Canadian Tire gas bar and a career exploration opportunity at the Oromocto Golf and Curling Club. He is currently completing his final work placement at the Oromocto Food Bank as he prepares for graduation.

Deven’s Transition Facilitator, Alicia Wilson, praises his willingness to stretch and apply himself.

“Our program isn’t successful unless our students are willing to try different things and work hard,” she says. “I’m super proud of him.”

Finding a job “takes a lot of work; it takes a lot of time and patience,” Deven, 19, says. “It’s hard to wait for the call that says, ‘You’re hired.’”

“I think it’s important for people not to be scared to ask for help,” Deven says. “Inclusion NB helped me get a job; they helped me out a lot.”

Busy with extracurricular activities

Deven’s been building his sports resume, too. He plays baseball through Jays Care, a Toronto Blue Jays program that helps all kids enjoy organized sports.

For the past four years, he has played sledge hockey and wants to advocate for Parasport New Brunswick, raising awareness about para-sports.

With June upon us, Deven is thinking about life after high school.

“Grade 12 gets you ready for the real world,” he says. He’s “nervous and a bit excited” for what comes next. “Mostly excited.”

Alicia has been working with Deven and his family to create a plan to ensure he has the support to meet his goals, including living independently.

Whatever the future holds, he’s eager for what comes next.

“I think when I get there, a lot of people will be proud of me,” Deven says. “And, hopefully, in the future, I’ll be a rock star.”

“You’re already a rock star,” Alicia says.

“Well, more of one,” he responds.