April 27, 2021
Natanya Katz is a Canucks Autism Network (CAN) support worker. This past World Autism Day, she was one of nine individuals on the spectrum who shared what autism acceptance means to them in our video with EY:
Throughout the month, we have been taking turns expanding on the stories of each of our video participants. So we asked Natanya: What drives her to work for CAN? What should people know about autism? And why is autism acceptance important?
“It’s important to accept, be open to everyone and enjoy everyone’s unique and individual personalities and abilities,” Natanya said.
As a young woman on the spectrum, her lived experience fuels the understanding and compassion she brings to our programs. Natanya has been with CAN for just over two years. Before being hired as a support worker, she started as a volunteer, supporting kids in our summer programs.
“My favourite memory at CAN was Overnight Camp on Keats. I remember encouraging one of the campers to let me take him out on the water in a kayak. We saw dozens of seals. His excitement was so rewarding.”
That summer alone, Natanya volunteered in two week-long summer day camps and a full three days at Keats – tirelessly supporting our participants in a range of scenarios.
The following season, Natanya jumped in the pool to support our weekly swimming lessons. Overseeing our swim program at our JCC location in Vancouver was Kaitlin Sterndale-Bennett. Recalling Natanya’s time as a volunteer, Kaitlin had particularly high praise:
“I cannot speak highly enough about Natanya. As a volunteer, she was naturally responsive to the kids, excellent with our visual tools and calm under pressure. She was one of the strongest individuals in the pool.”
Needless to say, Natanya was quickly hired on as a support worker. Her tireless energy, natural ability and clear dedication to helping others are such a benefit to our participants.
“I want people to know that people on the autism spectrum are just like everyone else. We have goals and dreams. And we work hard to be successful and achieve them.”
We are so lucky to have individuals like Natanya supporting our participants and families. In addition to guiding our participants in their skill development, she is showcasing first-hand how individuals on the spectrum can lead the way in their community.
Read more from individuals on the spectrum: