Shane can barely contain his excitement about working at Bedford.
“I feel like I have a sense of purpose in my life and that feeling is probably the best thing I’ve ever felt,” he says.
The Adelaide teenager who has autism was recently offered full time work at Bedford’s manufacturing facility at Gepps Cross.
“I’m doing all types of things, cutting whiteboard, making drawers and all the edging and tape. When I see the items getting taped up and sent outside to be taken away, it feels like I’ve done something good,” he says.
That sense of fulfilment is a far cry from just a few months ago, when Shane was in a mainstream school struggling to fit in and avoid being teased and harassed.
“He was bullied on a regular basis and dreaded getting ready for school. We would often argue,” Shane’s mum, Leandara says.
Shane’s transition from school life to the workforce began in Year 10 when he was offered a work experience stint at Bedford thanks to the efforts of his disability support coordinator.
While he was apprehensive to begin with, Shane quickly grew to love the work, his colleagues and the support from people like personnel and training officer, Kaylan.
“We then assisted him with a school-to-work program at the Prospect Centre and again he did a fantastic job,” Kaylan says.
“We were able to increase his hours and also increase his opportunities. This is really one of the most positive stories to emerge from Bedford this year.”
A few months ago, Shane’s family made the decision to end his schooling so he could take on full-time work at Bedford.
“I’m now waiting for the NDIA to get back to me with a new plan in October when Shane turns 18,” Leandara says. “Hopefully they’ll provide the funding so he can stay in his job and support him with independent living in the future.”
For now though, Shane is happy. He wakes up on time every morning, makes his lunch and carefully lays out his uniform for the big day ahead.
“It might seem like a little thing, but it’s a big thing for me,” Shane says.
Leandara says she’s thankful for Bedford’s support.
“When they say they change lives, they’ve certainly changed Shane’s,” Leandara said.