Catching Up with Hallie, a RISE TEAM Graduate

It’s been three months since Hallie, a 16-year-old high-school student from Fawkes Academy in Burnaby, was last at our East Vancouver Learning Centre, and a lot has happened since then. She is one of two RISE TEAM participants who, after having volunteered as junior leaders, were offered employment as Learning Centre Assistants last Fall. Hallie additionally had the opportunity to be part of the Early RISErs team from January to June as a Program Assistant. Working between 5-15 hours a week, she greeted visitors, answered phones, helped to create learning materials, prepared and cleaned up after snack time, and interacted with preschool-aged children and their families. She not only honed her professional skills (e.g., answering the phone professionally and learning to use a timesheet for the first time) but also worked on her interpersonal and social media skills.  

Building confidence was another key skill Hallie developed during her paid employment opportunity at LDS. This was evident in Hallie’s ability to share her experience with United Way staff members during a visit to LDS. Hallie’s ability to share her challenges and growth in terms of professional and personal development was an integral part of LDS receiving further funding for the RISE TEAM program. Since graduating from the program, she was able to secure more part-time employment and put all her newfound knowledge and experience to good use.  

“I worked at Playland in the summer, at the concession. They asked me if I could be a grill cook, so I did that, too,” Hallie explained, adding that she’d be back there for Fright Nights, Playland’s Halloween-themed experience.   

“I also took the babysitting course. I felt a little nervous at first because I was the oldest one there, but I got a score of 97.9% at the end of it.”  

It turned out that what she’d learned during the RISE TEAM program and Early RISErs work had translated well to babysitting and she was able to help look after a boy that her family knew very well—they carpooled together—and his younger sister, too. Despite some early reservations about the high level of responsibility that would come with the job, as an Autistic teen with ADHD and learning differences, she was able to interact well and care for the neurotypical children and give their mother some valuable support.  

Now a grade 12 student, Hallie is facing the challenges that come with that senior year and is determined to stay focused and keep working hard, traits that she partially attributes to being a Capricorn. To balance off the demands of school, she enjoys going to church every Saturday with her family and has a few hobbies, including baking and cooking, crossword puzzles, and, most of all, music and concertgoing. And she manages to find opportunities to learn and grow in everything that she does. Her latest task is: Get better at persuasive writing, not only to acquire a new skill but also to convince her father to let her attend yet another concert this year.   


The RISE TEAM program combines LDS Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) with additional Training to advance their Employability, Abilities, or support Matriculation (TEAM). This innovative employment readiness project is designed to help teens with learning differences transition from high school to paid employment, training, or higher education.  

Thanks to generous donor funding from the United Way, LDS has spaces for students in grades 10 to 12 to complete the RISE TEAM program this school year. This includes paid work experience at LDS. 

To learn more about RISE TEAM, click here. You can also call us at 604.873.8139 or email