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Support organization blazes trail to Steinbach

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 10/22/2017 10:15 AM

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Trailblazers Life Choices executive director Andrew Morris, work experience participant Kanaba Hewitt, and residential and rural programs manager Rayann Kuban are seen outside the non-profit organization’s new Steinbach location at B-197 Main Street. Trailblazers provides day services for adults living with disabilities. Its Steinbach expansion marks its first foray beyond Winnipeg.

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Trailblazers Life Choices executive director Andrew Morris, work experience participant Kanaba Hewitt, and residential and rural programs manager Rayann Kuban are seen outside the non-profit organization’s new Steinbach location at B-197 Main Street. Trailblazers provides day services for adults living with disabilities. Its Steinbach expansion marks its first foray beyond Winnipeg.

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Trailblazers Life Choices, a Winnipeg-based organization serving adults with a disability, has arrived in Steinbach.

The registered non-profit opened the doors of its newly renovated space at B-197 Main Street on Sept. 6, said residential and rural programs manager Rayann Kuban.

"Everyone’s really friendly. We have had people walking in, checking our place out, asking us questions, and offering us services. It’s been really great," she said.

The new location marks the first time Trailblazers has ventured beyond Winnipeg, and several staff were drawn from the Steinbach and Ste Anne areas, Kuban said.

Established in 2005, Trailblazers’ currently supports more than 100 clients at its Winnipeg location. Five work experience participants have already registered in Steinbach, and Kuban predicted that number will double or triple over the coming year.

Trailblazers runs a variety of programs and services to connect its clients to recreation, skills development, and volunteer work experience opportunities. The latter is designed to be a stepping stone to paid employment.

"It’s all individualized. It’s based on the person’s interests and needs," Kuban explained.

In Steinbach, participants have already found work experience placements at Fairway Ford, Menno Mart, and Southland Church. Sobeys has also expressed interest, Kuban said.

A trailblazer’s typical day may start with pre-employment classes to build knowledge of practical skills such as budgeting and resume writing. Later, they may be accompanied by a job coach to a work experience site, where they begin practicing their skills.

The organization can also break down tailored goals, like living independently or improving cooking skills, into manageable steps. Services are open-ended, to provide a flexible atmosphere in which clients can learn and grow.

"We stay involved throughout until they tell us they don’t need our services anymore," Kuban said.

The expansion into Steinbach was pondered for a year or more, and was prompted in part by a desire to expand the programming opportunities available to rural Manitobans living with a disability in a growing region.

In doing so, Kuban said Trailblazers was cognizant of the valuable local services already provided by enVision Community Living and El’dad Ranch.

Jeannette Delong, enVision’s executive director, said communities are more inclusive than in decades past, resulting in more employment opportunities and a greater demand for vocational services from agencies. She welcomed Trailblazers to Steinbach, noting their strong reputation in Winnipeg and the good cooperation among support agencies in southern Manitoba.

Like many non-profits, Trailblazers relies on a mix of community donations and provincial funding to operate. As its public profile and client base in Steinbach grow, Kuban said the organization is also looking for local businesses and organizations willing to partner with its work experience program. Volunteers are also welcome, especially if they specialize in a specific skill like woodworking or crafts, Kuban said.

Those interested in learning more about Trailblazers Life Choices can explore its website at tlcwpg.ca.

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