Disabilities are merely obstacles to overcome for Michael Jacques

Community Jul 11, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Michael Jacques can’t read or write beyond a first-grade level. But that hasn’t stopped him from achieving many rites of passage to adulthood.

Michael, who lives with an intellectual disability and a form of autism, has already proven many naysayers wrong. He overcame the obstacles to earn his high school diploma, pass his G1 licence exam and land a rewarding career.

More recently, the 27-year-old Fonthill resident added published author to his list of accomplishments.

With the support of his employer, Sobeys, Michael is touring Ontario and Eastern Canada to promote his self-published book, Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book.

He spent the morning of July 9 signing books and chatting with shoppers at the Stone Church Road Sobeys in Hamilton. Michael works at the Fonthill Sobeys store.

Using Apple’s Siri app and its speech-to-text function, Michael spent more than five years compiling his autobiography. His older sister Kaila, a graphic designer, and her husband Chris also collaborated on the book. Kaila connected with 10 other artists, who contributed an original work of art to illustrate each chapter.

The book started out as a journal on Michael’s laptop computer. When Kaila came back home to visit during Christmas holidays, she borrowed the computer to watch Netflix and stumbled upon the journal. She asked Michael what he wanted to do with his story, and the idea for the book was born.

Michael’s book takes readers on a journey through his childhood and early adult life growing up in Burlington and Fonthill.

Among many things he learned from his parents, Marcel and Debbie, as stated in the book, is the following: A disability doesn’t mean you can’t achieve something; it just means that certain things might be a little more challenging.

In high school, Michael faced challenges with bullying and social exclusion.

But there were some good times as well, especially with his best friend, Daniel, nearby.

While attending a class for special needs students, a supply educational assistant noticed Michael was functioning at a higher level than many of the other students and felt he would benefit from a new environment.

“She told me to use my voice,” Michael writes in his book. “I started to realize that I was more than this, and that there are different ways to learn. I realized that I could focus on my strengths and use my voice to speak up.”

A short time later, Michael entered regular classes.

Determined to graduate high school despite his challenges, Michael took a literacy course — instead of the traditional literacy test — and passed. He attained the credits needed to graduate just weeks before he turned 21, the cut-off age for high school students with disabilities.

Michael has made more than 60 presentations on his book for schools and community groups, and has participated in several print and TV interviews.

He’s met TV talk show icon Ellen DeGeneres, executives from Apple Canada and Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

After reading his book, the lieutenant-governor submitted Michael’s name to the executive director of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Michael will be honoured alongside other young adults in the 53 British Commonwealth countries who are making positive changes in their communities.

In an interview, Michael said the book is an easy read for all age levels, and is full of inspirational and motivational messages.

He’s grateful to Sobeys for giving him a platform to promote his work.

“Sobeys in general is a very good company to work for. They’re like a second family to me and they also donate to the Special Olympics, which is very important because it helps me out and athletes like myself,” said Michael.

Partial proceeds from Michael’s book will benefit Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario. Michael is a Special Olympics athlete who enjoys baseball and basketball.

Sobeys is also donating $2 to Special Olympics Canada for each book sold in stores. Copies are selling across Ontario and Eastern Canada for $20.

To find out more, see www.heresmybook.com.

Disabilities are merely obstacles to overcome for Michael Jacques

Author pens 'Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book'

Community Jul 11, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Michael Jacques can’t read or write beyond a first-grade level. But that hasn’t stopped him from achieving many rites of passage to adulthood.

Michael, who lives with an intellectual disability and a form of autism, has already proven many naysayers wrong. He overcame the obstacles to earn his high school diploma, pass his G1 licence exam and land a rewarding career.

More recently, the 27-year-old Fonthill resident added published author to his list of accomplishments.

With the support of his employer, Sobeys, Michael is touring Ontario and Eastern Canada to promote his self-published book, Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book.

He spent the morning of July 9 signing books and chatting with shoppers at the Stone Church Road Sobeys in Hamilton. Michael works at the Fonthill Sobeys store.

Using Apple’s Siri app and its speech-to-text function, Michael spent more than five years compiling his autobiography. His older sister Kaila, a graphic designer, and her husband Chris also collaborated on the book. Kaila connected with 10 other artists, who contributed an original work of art to illustrate each chapter.

The book started out as a journal on Michael’s laptop computer. When Kaila came back home to visit during Christmas holidays, she borrowed the computer to watch Netflix and stumbled upon the journal. She asked Michael what he wanted to do with his story, and the idea for the book was born.

Michael’s book takes readers on a journey through his childhood and early adult life growing up in Burlington and Fonthill.

Among many things he learned from his parents, Marcel and Debbie, as stated in the book, is the following: A disability doesn’t mean you can’t achieve something; it just means that certain things might be a little more challenging.

In high school, Michael faced challenges with bullying and social exclusion.

But there were some good times as well, especially with his best friend, Daniel, nearby.

While attending a class for special needs students, a supply educational assistant noticed Michael was functioning at a higher level than many of the other students and felt he would benefit from a new environment.

“She told me to use my voice,” Michael writes in his book. “I started to realize that I was more than this, and that there are different ways to learn. I realized that I could focus on my strengths and use my voice to speak up.”

A short time later, Michael entered regular classes.

Determined to graduate high school despite his challenges, Michael took a literacy course — instead of the traditional literacy test — and passed. He attained the credits needed to graduate just weeks before he turned 21, the cut-off age for high school students with disabilities.

Michael has made more than 60 presentations on his book for schools and community groups, and has participated in several print and TV interviews.

He’s met TV talk show icon Ellen DeGeneres, executives from Apple Canada and Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

After reading his book, the lieutenant-governor submitted Michael’s name to the executive director of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Michael will be honoured alongside other young adults in the 53 British Commonwealth countries who are making positive changes in their communities.

In an interview, Michael said the book is an easy read for all age levels, and is full of inspirational and motivational messages.

He’s grateful to Sobeys for giving him a platform to promote his work.

“Sobeys in general is a very good company to work for. They’re like a second family to me and they also donate to the Special Olympics, which is very important because it helps me out and athletes like myself,” said Michael.

Partial proceeds from Michael’s book will benefit Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario. Michael is a Special Olympics athlete who enjoys baseball and basketball.

Sobeys is also donating $2 to Special Olympics Canada for each book sold in stores. Copies are selling across Ontario and Eastern Canada for $20.

To find out more, see www.heresmybook.com.

Disabilities are merely obstacles to overcome for Michael Jacques

Author pens 'Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book'

Community Jul 11, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Michael Jacques can’t read or write beyond a first-grade level. But that hasn’t stopped him from achieving many rites of passage to adulthood.

Michael, who lives with an intellectual disability and a form of autism, has already proven many naysayers wrong. He overcame the obstacles to earn his high school diploma, pass his G1 licence exam and land a rewarding career.

More recently, the 27-year-old Fonthill resident added published author to his list of accomplishments.

With the support of his employer, Sobeys, Michael is touring Ontario and Eastern Canada to promote his self-published book, Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book.

He spent the morning of July 9 signing books and chatting with shoppers at the Stone Church Road Sobeys in Hamilton. Michael works at the Fonthill Sobeys store.

Using Apple’s Siri app and its speech-to-text function, Michael spent more than five years compiling his autobiography. His older sister Kaila, a graphic designer, and her husband Chris also collaborated on the book. Kaila connected with 10 other artists, who contributed an original work of art to illustrate each chapter.

The book started out as a journal on Michael’s laptop computer. When Kaila came back home to visit during Christmas holidays, she borrowed the computer to watch Netflix and stumbled upon the journal. She asked Michael what he wanted to do with his story, and the idea for the book was born.

Michael’s book takes readers on a journey through his childhood and early adult life growing up in Burlington and Fonthill.

Among many things he learned from his parents, Marcel and Debbie, as stated in the book, is the following: A disability doesn’t mean you can’t achieve something; it just means that certain things might be a little more challenging.

In high school, Michael faced challenges with bullying and social exclusion.

But there were some good times as well, especially with his best friend, Daniel, nearby.

While attending a class for special needs students, a supply educational assistant noticed Michael was functioning at a higher level than many of the other students and felt he would benefit from a new environment.

“She told me to use my voice,” Michael writes in his book. “I started to realize that I was more than this, and that there are different ways to learn. I realized that I could focus on my strengths and use my voice to speak up.”

A short time later, Michael entered regular classes.

Determined to graduate high school despite his challenges, Michael took a literacy course — instead of the traditional literacy test — and passed. He attained the credits needed to graduate just weeks before he turned 21, the cut-off age for high school students with disabilities.

Michael has made more than 60 presentations on his book for schools and community groups, and has participated in several print and TV interviews.

He’s met TV talk show icon Ellen DeGeneres, executives from Apple Canada and Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

After reading his book, the lieutenant-governor submitted Michael’s name to the executive director of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Michael will be honoured alongside other young adults in the 53 British Commonwealth countries who are making positive changes in their communities.

In an interview, Michael said the book is an easy read for all age levels, and is full of inspirational and motivational messages.

He’s grateful to Sobeys for giving him a platform to promote his work.

“Sobeys in general is a very good company to work for. They’re like a second family to me and they also donate to the Special Olympics, which is very important because it helps me out and athletes like myself,” said Michael.

Partial proceeds from Michael’s book will benefit Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario. Michael is a Special Olympics athlete who enjoys baseball and basketball.

Sobeys is also donating $2 to Special Olympics Canada for each book sold in stores. Copies are selling across Ontario and Eastern Canada for $20.

To find out more, see www.heresmybook.com.