Andrea’s job is going swimmingly: Family pleased with Fort St. John pilot program

Through her job at the North Peace Leisure pool in Fort St. John, Andrea Conkin has proven herself as an independent, reliable and hard-working colleague, and made new connections with people in her community.

Andrea Conkin’s voice lights up when she talks about her job with the City of Fort St. John at the North Peace Leisure pool.

“A little girl came up to me and thanked me for cleaning her locker. She said she really appreciates having a clean locker every time she comes to the pool.  That makes me feel really, really good,” she says.

Diving in to an engaging opportunity

Andrea received support from the Fort St. John Association for Community Living (FSJACL) to find a job that would allow her to be with people. She disliked her previous job working alone shredding paper.

In April 2018, Andrea was matched with a part-time job at North Peace Leisure pool through a pilot spearheaded by FSJACL. She works three days a week cleaning equipment and keeping the pool area and lockers tidy.  Prior to starting her new job, she took online training to understand how to use industrial cleaning supplies to keep the pool areas clean and sanitized. Taking the training online allowed her to go at her own pace.

Her mother, Sarah, a strong champion for Andrea finding the job she wants, says family support has been instrumental in helping Andrea find and keep work, with more support needed at the beginning. Sarah says Andrea’s on-going support needs are minimal and the benefits and community she has found at work are immeasurable.

“Andrea felt isolated in her previous jobs, and this new job has been so good for her because it has connected her to people,” says Sarah. “The lifeguards and her supervisor are awesome. Her manager says Andrea is her hardest worker. Andrea really feels like she is making a difference.”

Sarah and Andrea are most excited about the recent announcement that Andrea’s job will now be made permanent, and there are plans for her to grow into a new role as waterslide attendant.

“Over 40 people work with Andrea at the pool,” says pool manager Karin Carlson. “She is great to have as a colleague – she is positive, reliable, independent and hard-working. We are excited about developing training to help Andrea grow in her job and become a waterslide attendant.”

Tapping in to a new talent pool

Andrea and others are benefiting from FSJACL’s partnership with the City of Fort St. John.  Initially, FSJACL had approached the City in 2011 to propose they work together to create positions for people CLBC serves in municipal departments. The proposal bore fruit in 2017 when City Council approved a new diversity hiring policy. This enabled FSJACL to work with the City’s human resources department to implement a pilot to match people with jobs in the City’s recreation department.

“It has been super exciting to see the benefits of this pilot on the individuals involved,” says Sheri Ashdown, employment coordinator for FSJACL. “Families have been telling me how impactful it has been for their kid’s quality of life.”


Inclusive employment resources

  • Best Practices for Supported Employment
    Finder user-friendly information for employers, job seekers, service providers and family members.
  • familyWORKS
    This site provide families with a forum for conversations about employment and mentoring through family to family support, as well as information and resources.
  • MentorAbility
    A public awareness and employment development initiative that connects people with developmental disabilities to employers for a day of mentoring.
  • BC Partners in Workforce Innovation
    An innovative recruitment pilot project to help BC employers meet current and future workforce needs, and connect people with diverse abilities to employment opportunities.
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