N.B. café offering internships for students with intellectual challenges


A café that employs adults with intellectual challenges is now helping students with special needs gain work experience by teaming up with high school internship programs. “Maybe future employees will come through that and it is also us doing our part to teach skills that are transferrable to the job market,” said Pierre Arsenault, who co-owns the coffee shop with parent Natalie Perron.Arsenault said the now business partners came up with the idea for Cafe Inclusio in 2017, when their children were nearing the end of high school.Arsenault’s son Joël Arsenault lives with a form of autism and Perron’s son Samuel Dégarie lives with Down Syndrome. Story continues below advertisement “We thought, let’s put something together, then we can employ people with special needs,” Arsenault said.The business started as a pop-up business where the boys would serve coffee at events and festivals. Trending Now The cafe opened in August 2017 and Arsenault said it has seen a steady increase in clientele.“We do have really core supporters that come here and they adore the place,” he said.Arsenault said the cafe decided to offer job placements for special needs high school students after Perron’s own son benefited from a work placement at the cafe.Students learn skills such as bagging coffee, serving customers and cleaning, he said. “These are all learning skills, life skills where you can go from here to somewhere else.”Angelica Salasporras, 18, who lives with Down Syndrome, started her placement in late February. “To work is good,” she said.Finding work placements can be a challenge for students with special needs, says Angelica’s educational assistant, Karen Gould, who has been an EA for more than 30 years.“It is their chance finally to work with other people and to be in the workforce,” she said. Story continues below advertisement The shop has already placed students from Ecole Mathieu-Martin and Ecole L’Odyssee and is opening its doors to other high schools in the region. &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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