Surrey-based personal trainer lifting some social barriers

NEWTON — Before you even ask – yes, he lifts, bro.

But it’s not as simple for him.

Mitchell Hallman has been a personal trainer with the Tong Louie Family YMCA for a little over a year.

Hallman put MLA Don McRae (Comox Valley), minister of social development and social innovation, through a personal-training session he will never forget on Wednesday (Sept. 10).

The personal trainer suffers from cerebral palsy and said that his disability didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream job.Hallman, who received personal training certification from Douglas College, admits there are some exercises he can’t do, but has still been able to train clients.

"They see me with one hand lift what they lift with two hands. They get motivated to try," he said.

Even though Hallman prefers weightlifting, he gave McRae a taste of all forms of exercise while he was at the gym.

"He’s obviously passionate about what he does," said McRae. "He’s excited about what he does and I’m sure the people he works with are getting a huge benefit."

The province has named September as disability employment month. To mark the occasion, the minister is visiting several people around B.C. who are disabled and employed.

This announcement has been followed by a 10-year action plan put forward by the province known as Accessibility 2024, which aims to make British Columbia the most advanced region in Canada for the disabled.

Janice Huberman, a job creator with Avia Employment Services, helped Hallman land his job at the YMCA.

She said Hallman received financial help from Avia to attain his credentials so he could apply to become a personal trainer, but it was his attitude that led to the job.She said that he started off doing volunteer work for several months before the YMCA noticed Hallman had something to offer as a paid employee.

"(Hallman) has good work ethic, he can do the work and he has a good attitude. People like to work with him.

"The fact that he’s got cerebral palsy is irrelevant to them," Huberman said.Avia is a governmentfunded program aimed at getting unemployed and underemployed people into jobs that meet their skill level.

The employment rate for people aged 15 to 64 is 18 per cent lower for the disabled, according to a media release sent out by the province.

More information can be found at Aviaemployment. ca.

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