Sobeys Supports Inclusive Communities

Special Olympic Alberta News

“My job makes me feel like I’m part of their family.” - Brent Shipton, Special Olympics Strathcona County.

By Sarah Spisak

If you’re visiting the Lakeland Ridge Sobeys in Sherwood Park, you may see Brent Shipton working or proudly showing off his medals that he won through Special Olympics. Brent and his floor hockey team recently took home the gold medal at the 2023 Special Olympics Alberta Provincial Winter Games in Strathcona County. And while Brent has been a Special Olympics athlete since 2004, he has been an employee at Sobeys even longer.

“Brent has worked here for 21 years and counting,” says Deb Lukawenko, owner of the Lakeland Ridge Sobeys. “Brent is friendly, sociable and extremely helpful with our customers while diligently doing his tasks.”

Sobeys is a long-time supporter and partner of Special Olympics and has helped raise millions of dollars to support inclusive communities across the country.

“It should be a business' responsibility (where possible) to employ persons with disabilities,” Deb says. “It gives the employee the opportunity to develop independence, responsibility, and purpose. Co-workers develop relationships and have a better understanding of challenges that persons with disabilities may face.

“We can all learn from each other.”

For Brent, having meaningful employment is an important part of his life.

“You can’t find anything better than what I’m doing,” Brent says. “My job makes me feel like I’m part of their family.”

Brent works as a courtesy clerk and his tasks include taking care of the water bottles, carts, baskets, sweeps and carry outs, but his favourite part of the job is interacting with and helping customers.

“My favourite part of my job is helping customers when they can’t find something and my colleagues help me when I can’t find something,” Brent says.

Sobeys assists their staff with disabilities by providing them supports they need during their shifts depending on their abilities.

Everything evolves around the employee's ability to work independently.,” Deb says. “Each employee may have different skills. Watching an employee develop their skills, become more independent, have pride in the work they do and enjoy interacting with customers and co-workers is priceless.”

When Brent isn’t working at Sobeys, he is playing one of many sports with Special Olympics or taking his dog, Dakota, for walks.

You can visit Brent during the Sobeys campaign from June first to eighth at the Lakeland Ridge Sobeys in Sherwood Park or stop by any Sobeys, Safeway, or IGA across the province to donate and meet other Special Olympics athletes like Brent.

This year, Sobeys is matching every 2$ donation up to $500,000 and all money will be donated directly to Special Olympics Canada to support the growth of inclusive communities across Alberta and the country.

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