Jayden Bell is a former student of Montague Continuing Education Centre, a senior secondary school for students with intellectual disability. He is also a Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) graduate, Duke of Edinburgh award recipient, youth group leader and an aspiring chef. Jayden has a mild intellectual disability and has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, so he requires some systems and support in order to be able to achieve his goals.
Through Montague’s involvement in the Ticket to Work initiative, Jayden identified hospitality as an area that would suit his passion for cooking. A local Ticket to Work network, made up of local businesses and organisations, worked with Jayden to find a suitable placement. This led to an opportunity at The Point Restaurant in Albert Park Melbourne, where Head Chef Justin Wise was keen to discuss a placement for Jayden.
A meeting between Ticket to Work Network members, Jayden, and Justin allowed open discussion of Jayden’s strengths and areas where he may need support in the workplace. They decided that Jayden would commence a five day structured workplace learning placement. During this time both student and employer received regular support from organisations within the Ticket to Work network.
Justin from The Point restaurant was very impressed with Jayden’s effort and determination in the workplace and it wasn’t long before Justin offered him a School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT). Jayden continued to attend school, work at the Point Restaurant and undertake accredited training, successfully completing his traineeship as well as his senior school qualification.
To put the icing on the cake, Justin then offered Jayden a full apprenticeship in commercial cookery, providing him with an opportunity for a positive transition from school to employment – a transition proven to be crucial to long-term success. Tracey Christian, Jayden’s mother, believes he is “well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming a chef and one day teaching cooking and life skills to children with disabilities.”
When asked how he felt about the Ticket to Work and his future after school, Jayden replied,
“When I first started work I was nervous, but then I started to feel more confident. In the beginning it would take me two hours to peel 20kgs of potatoes but now I’ve got it down to 25 minutes!”
Jayden has now been studying commercial cookery at William Angliss for over two years and will be finishing later this year. He is keen to work at an aged care facility to put his cooking skills to use.
Jayden is also a proud youth ambassador for Marriot Employment Solutions, a Disability Employment Service. As an ambassador Jayden travels to conferences and events to share his story and show people that employment is achievable for young people with disability.
With support, encouragement and the ability to match his career choices to his passion, Jayden is on the way to achieving his vision of success.
 Christian, T. (2014) Dreaming Big, Noticeboard Magazine of the Association for Children With A Disability, Autumn 2014 Issue