After high school, many young adults with autism feel like their career options are really limited — and with good reason.
Ontario’s Camp Thrive is trying to change that. Forget canoes and campfire songs, this is a place where kids and teens can come to develop real-life job skills and find their place in the world. Campers learn to farm, cook and raise chickens to start. But as each participant gravitates towards certain acitivites, staff try to foster that interest and hone their skills.
Take 22-year-old Michael Zuccaro, for example. At one point he was so angry and violent, he required four people to restrain him. After one trip to Camp Thrive, councillors quickly discovered he enjoyed working with wood. He now operates his own woodcrafting business — complete with a website — where he can sell his wares. He earned $30,000 in the past year.
Another camper dreamed of being a barista at Starbucks. Officials with the coffee chain heard about the camp, and quickly offered two campers part-time jobs.
“We don’t think about planning for these kids’ future down the road, and instead of having them contribute to society like they can, we end up just kind of pushing them to the side,” Camp Thrive co-director Howard Dalal says in the video, above. “My hope is by the end of October, we’ll have jobs for at least eight out of our 12 kids up at camp.”
Check out the video, above, to see the kids in action.