Montreal barbershop offers internship to youth with autism

News source from CTV News

Oliver Kult is the owner of Maison Privée, a trendy barbershop in Old Montreal. Inspired by his sister, who works with people with autism, he recently brought 17-year-old Jeremy Leveille aboard as an intern as part of a program that gives people with autism work experience.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to help him develop some kind of self-confidence, because I didn’t have self-confidence before starting my own businesses,” Kult told CTV Montreal.

At the shop, Leveille is hard at work sweeping the floor, washing windows — all jobs that he says are fun.

“The people here are really nice,” Leveille told CTV Montreal. “Sometimes I’m really shy, but they try everything to make me comfortable. And I like the style of the place because it’s really beautiful.”

That “style,” Kult said, made people in the work experience program gravitate towards his shop.

“They all wanted to work here,” Kult said. “They were all like, ‘Oh, this is cool!’ There’s hip-hop playing. The guys have tattoos. It’s like a cool vibe, you know?”

At the beginning of the internship, Leveille mostly kept to himself — but in just one month, staff say that they have noticed a change in the young man.

“I would say he’s a lot more comfortable with us,” one of Kult’s barbers told CTV Montreal. “At first, he was a lot more shy. Like, we would have to go to him. But now he’ll just come to us and ask us questions.”

Kult agrees.

“He’s doing a lot more interaction,” he said. “He comes into the shop, says ‘hi’ to everybody. Before he was a bit more in his corner.”

Leveille says he’s proud of that and Kult says the experience has inspired him to bring more young people living with autism into his shop in the future.

With a report from CTV Montreal’s Amanda Kline

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