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2013 Champion - Kyle Watkins

Literacy struggles a detour, not a roadblock


Kyle Watkins is determined to succeed, and to help others succeed.

Early in life, Kyle, a Selkirk resident, was diagnosed with a learning disability. He struggled through high school, generally getting Cs or Ds. Despite his challenges, he stuck to his school work and graduated.

After graduating, Kyle worked at a grocery store, but when his daughter was born, he started to think about a new career. “Minimum wage is hard to live off of,” he said. “If you don’t have education, you’re just going to struggle through life.”
Kyle applied for the Personal Support Worker (PSW) program through Grand Erie Learning Alternatives (GELA) continuing education program, but wasn’t able to pass the entrance exam.

Not content just to give up, Kyle went to the Haldimand Norfolk Literacy Council, where he upgraded his reading and writing skills. He applied for GELA’s PSW program again, and was accepted into the Dunnville location.

Kyle faced more struggles: classes were difficult, and transportation was an issue. Even when his truck broke down, and he was left without a vehicle, Kyle made sure he got to class.

And he extended a helping hand to other students. When one of Kyle’s colleagues, Matt, was halfway through the program his father told him he was moving. This left Matt with the decision to leave the program, or be without a place to live. Kyle spoke to his parents, and Matt stayed with his family for three months while he completed his schooling.

When asked about this assistance, Kyle is nonchalant. “When we met, we bonded right away,” he said “and I just wanted to help him get back on track.”

Kyle is putting his education to good use, working full-time in home-care. He has plans to go back to school with complete his Developmental Services Worker diploma, so he can work with children with disabilities.

Story by Rob Rombouts

Photo by Blackbird Photography