Candle store lights the way for youth with developmental delays
Light A Dream in Pointe Claire helps young adults transition from high school programs to independent living
Along a small strip mall of fluorescent and neon-lit storefronts, the candlelight glow from a shop on Donegani Avenue in Pointe Claire is a proud one.
Many of the products sold at candle store Light A Dream, a community organization supported by the West Island Community Shares, are the creations of young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 with learning challenges.
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They spend three years working as part of the shop's cooperative education program, where they gain important life and work skills.
It's an important stage of life, in which students are transitioning from high school programs to independent living and taking their first steps into uncertain futures.
"Going out into the world is feeling like when your limbs turn to Jell-O," said Anthony Rabi, who will be graduating from the three-year program in June 2017.
The program, which is linked to the Lester B. Pearson School Board, helps young adults with Down syndrome, autism and developmental delays to foster important work and life skills through contributing to and managing a business.
Tasks include budgeting, operating a cash register, cleaning, serving customers and inventory. It also involves making candles, which students do in groups.
The program fosters self-esteem and entrepreneurship by encouraging students to create prototypes of their own products for the store.
Marni Spunt, who has Down syndrome, was one of the founding students. She now has a job with JEM Workshop, a packing which she loves.
"It's a good job where I have lots of friends," said Spunt.
Light A Dream is celebrating its 16th holiday season.
"Pretty good, I think, for a little store," said managing director Diana Zuleeg.
Until Dec. 23, Light a Dream is open until 8 p.m. on weekdays and until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.