07 February. 2020
Young fundraiser helps inspire brighter futures
10-year old Mateo Liberta is continuing his family’s tradition of philanthropy that helps those with disabilities to live better in the community.

Thanks to Mateo’s successful initiative, over $50,000 was raised in support of the new Project SEARCH classroom renovation at Toronto Rehab’s Rumsey Neuro Centre to help prepare students with a disability to successfully navigate the workforce following high school graduation.

Toronto Rehab’s LIFEspan Clinic helps young people with disabilities understand how to manage their medical care and learn the skills they need to build their lives as they grow older. Last September, the unique transition-to-work Project SEARCH internship program was launched through LIFEspan. Ten students in their final year of high school, challenged by intellectual disability, autism and hearing impairments were chosen for a 10-month placement to study and work in non-clinical roles at Toronto Rehab and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. 

Project SEARCH helps students prepare for employment through a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, hands-on training through 3 co-op rotations, and individualized job development. 

A typical day begins and ends with classroom instruction, led by a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) teacher based at Toronto Rehab’s Rumsey-Neuro Centre. Topics focus on life skills that will help make students successful in the work place, such as money management and building professional communication skills. Students are supported at their co-op placements by the teacher and by job and skills developers from Community Living Toronto. After graduation, Community Living Toronto provides personalized employment support so students secure quality jobs.

“The classroom is where Project SEARCH comes to life and provides a nurturing environment for students,” said Susan Jewell, Senior Vice President and Executive Lead, Toronto Rehab-UHN, in her welcoming remarks at the official dedication of the Project SEARCH classroom on February 4, 2020.

“Toronto Rehab is privileged to help youth with disabilities develop the skills and confidence they need to compete in today’s job market, and help them have a true understanding of what businesses and potential employers are looking for in an employee.”

A plaque was unveiled in the classroom that gratefully acknowledges key supporters of the $100,000 Project SEARCH Classroom Renovation: Mateo Liberta, Big Slick Children’s Charity, State of Kindness Foundation, Sofina Foods Inc. and Sofina Foundation. Their support helped upgrade and equip the space to best serve the Project SEARCH participants.

The successful launch of Project SEARCH aligned the vision of Toronto Rehab and our incredible community of donors with partners Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation, Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Community Living, Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), and the United Way of Greater Toronto.

We thank Mateo for helping demonstrate the powerful role that young people can play in accomplishing the change needed to enable a better future. 

In photo (clockwise): Mateo Liberta (centre) with his father Christopher, CEO of State Window Corporation, his sister Amilia, and his mother Carla (far left). 

Project SEARCH on CTV News February 18, 2020
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