In 1971, students with disabilities were not encouraged to enroll in community colleges due to the perceptions regarding placement opportunities. Mark Garber, a placement officer at Mohawk College was discouraged because he could not place these clients. He knew they had just as much to offer in the workplace. He felt ABILITY not disability was what employers wanted.
One day two students with disabilities went into Mr. Garber’s office to discuss the idea of creating an agency entirely devoted to those with disabilities. This placement office at Mohawk was a Canada Employment Centre, a government agency, and therefore made perfect sense to pilot the first agency in North America exclusively for people with disabilities.
A grant was applied for and received on the same day in 1972. Now the hard part. In order to find meaningful employment for their clients, PATH had to start educating the community. The perception was that people with disabilities were unable to perform to a certain level. Nevertheless, over the years with a lot of teaching and great communication, the community has given people with disabilities more opportunities than ever before.
In 1985, PATH made 12 placements and served approximately 75 clients. Today, PATH can boast 9,977 visits to our Employment Resource Centre and 605 clients with disabilities served resulting in 326 competitively paid employment placements last year .
PATH, since its inception has reached out to the community, through events such as Accessibility awareness challenges, Job Fairs and town-halls.
Mainstream training and education, improved transportation services, diverse housing options, adaptive devices and the tremendous technology available to all persons with disabilities have also empowered our clientele. Positive attitudes and success in the workplace are the results.
When Mark Garber looked into his crystal ball in 1972, did he imagine the progress society has made in accepting and now recruiting people with disabilities? It is agencies such as PATH that have broken ground to ensure that a positive proactive approach is used in the workplace.