Ottawa woman with Down syndrome empowered through employment
Published Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:52PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, November 1, 2017 12:21PM EDT
Employment has been empowering for a young Ottawa woman with Down syndrome.
Laura Gulick has fulfilled a life-long goal of paying for a cruise with her earnings. Now she's set her sights on an even loftier challenge.
It was the trip of a lifetime for 28-year-old Laura Gulick, a week-long Mediterranean cruise with her parents through Italy, Montenegro, Greece and Croatia.
“I work really, really hard to go on a cruise and here I am right now,” Laura says in a video she taped while on board the cruise ship.
Part of that pride comes from the fact that Gulick paid for every single penny of her trip from her earnings at work.
“It was fantastic to go on a cruise with my parents,” she says, back home in her Barrhaven home.
We first met Laura nearly 3 years ago. After years of searching unsuccessfully for a job, Laura's mom Leslie took to social media to ask for help.
“What I did was I threw it out there,” recalls Leslie Gulick, “because what am I to do as a parent to help her because she's so frustrated and within an hour, there were two offers.”
Laura is still working at Marianne’s, a clothing store in the Westgate mall and she has since added another 2 jobs to her list.
“I think Laura can do anything,” says Natalie Billings, who works with Laura at Marianne’s, offering her advice and guidance, “She has no limits, I find.”
In addition to working at Marianne’s, Laura found employment at Value Village and Whole Foods, where it takes her no less than 3 bus transfers to get there and 4 to get home.
“She's more independent,” says her mother Leslie, “and she does not want our help because she says “I’m an adult.”
There's a bigger picture here, too, for folks like Laura. People with disabilities are highly under-employed in Canada, despite what many abilities they have. Anna-Karina Tabuñar is a disability advocate and a documentary film maker of “Talent Untapped.”
“I think Laura shows there is this big unconventional hidden talent pool that they need to tap into,” says Tabuñar, “and Laura is just one face.”
One very determined face; determined now to save up for her next big step: to move out.
“My dream is to get an apartment,” Laura says.
“I know she'll do it,” says her mother, “she'll do it.”
It seems so. She's already making the list of what she'll need.
“I’m really excited for that,” says Laura.