It all started in 2018. KLIIN was still in its infancy, and orders were coming in at a breakneck pace. Our founder, Marie-Pierre Bérubé, was making labels in her living room to ensure products were being shipped on time.
One of her friends, a psychologist at École Polybel, told her about a prework training program: companies would partner with the school to offer students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) workplace experience. The program provided students with relevant tasks that helped the company while letting them acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce.
Since KLIIN didn't have a warehouse at the time, Marie-Pierre travelled back and forth to share equipment with the young participants and show them how to perform their tasks. When the 2018-2019 school year came to a close, Marie-Pierre thanked the students by organizing a year-end outing&mdashshe even suited them all up in KLIIN-coloured jerseys!
The following year, École Polybel contacted KLIIN to continue the partnership. It was a relationship that developed naturally during the first year and came into full bloom during the second. Students appreciated the stability and were happy to reunite with "Ms. KLIIN," her products, and the tasks they were familiar with. The experience helped them sharpen their skills and recognize their progress.
"I'd arrive at Polybel, my arms loaded with materials. Sean or Clovis would hold the door for me, and all the students would greet me in unison: 'Hello, Ms. KLIIN!' It's one of my fondest memories of the partnership."
Marie-Pierre Bérubé, founder of KLIIN
Beyond offering young people the training they need to enter the workforce, KLIIN also gives the program visibility, encouraging other local businesses to join! One such example was a video made at the end of the first year. Screened during the school's gala, it illustrated the positive impact the program had on students. The video caught the attention of parents with leadership positions in a slew of industries, many of whom decided to get their companies involved!
"The experience is enriching for everyone involved! As they learn from us, we learn from them. They're super intelligent, ultra-competent young people who simply need a different kind of approach to workplace training."
Marie-Pierre Bérubé, founder of KLIIN
This year, KLIIN continues the partnership but wants to do even more. During Autism Awareness Month, we hope to spread the word about the program to as many people as possible. And with the help of our young colleagues from École Polybel, we created a Polybel-branded KLIIN, of which $2 from each sale will be donated to the school.
Moved by the idea, Polybel's faculty immediately brought the students together for a brainstorming session. Angélique created the artwork while other students composed the slogan. The project pays homage to an early school initiative: a student-run café.
Because École Polybel is a French-speaking school, the slogan developed by the students is in French and loosely translates as “Perfectly Different. To wipe away prejudices.” Product is available in French only.
Some numbers to consider:
We invite you to get your Polybel KLIIN (designed in the school colours!) to support young people wanting to enter the workplace!
Want to get involved? There are many ways to do so! If you're a Montérégie business that wants to help train young people with autism spectrum disorder, contact Autisme Montérégie. And if you'd like to donate to the cause, head over to Fondation Véro et Louis and Fondation Autiste et Majeur.
To learn more about KLIIN's involvement, visit the KLIIN's Engagement page!
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