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Paper Planes Café By PAFN Now Brewing At YVR, Advancing Inclusive and Accessible Travel And Employment Experiences

In a groundbreaking move towards fostering inclusivity and accessibility in the travel industry, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) have joined forces to unveil the Paper Planes Café. This innovative addition to YVR's reimagined food and beverage offerings marks a significant milestone as the first-of-its-kind inclusive coffee bar at a Canadian airport.

At YVR – everyone belongs

Situated in Domestic Arrivals, Level 2 at YVR, Paper Planes Café aims to transcend the conventional airport setting by embracing diversity and providing meaningful employment opportunities. What sets this café apart is its commitment to inclusivity, with a dedicated team of individuals from the neurodiverse community. The Paper Plane Café team, comprising baristas with varying abilities, will not only prepare and serve a delightful array of coffee, hot drinks, and quick snacks but will also contribute to creating a more inclusive atmosphere for the millions of passengers, employees, and guests passing through YVR.

"We are thrilled to welcome Paper Planes Café to YVR in partnership with Pacific Autism Family Network. Paper Planes Café is more than just a coffee shop, it is a place where adults with diverse abilities can gain training, paid employment, and valuable work experience. Travellers at YVR will have an opportunity to enjoy quality food and beverages while also supporting employment opportunities for individuals across the neurodiverse community in a safe and empowering place."

Tamara Vrooman, President & CEO

Training, employment and beyond

Integral to the Paper Planes Café concept is a comprehensive training program spanning up to six months. This program equips staff with essential skills and expertise relevant to the restaurant and service industry, including barista talents, safe food handling and preparation, and customer service. As individuals complete their training, they are not only gaining valuable experience but also preparing for seamless integration into the broader job market, thereby empowering them to succeed in the workforce.

"I'm looking forward to this opportunity, finding a job and work nowadays can be challenging, especially if you apply online. Sometimes employers respond to you, sometimes they don't. And if you say you're on the autism spectrum, they might be a bit iffy about it. Here at Paper Planes Café, they are supportive of people with autism."

Liam Gimenez, one of the first enthusiastic employees at Paper Planes Café

When discussing the topic of neurodiversity and employment, Sergio Cocchia O.B.C. LL.D. (Hon), Board Chair & President of Pacific Autism Family Network underscored the transformative potential of Paper Planes Café and its impact on the first set of trainees.

"We truly believe this will give program participants an opportunity to experience real employment, these experiences, of being responsible for yourself and responsible for showing up to work on time, getting paid, and deciding how you're going to spend your own money, this is what life is like. YVR is a leader on inclusion, understanding of equality, and recognition of people and their distinct differences. Paper Planes Café is a location where we can celebrate that diversity, we can make our customers aware of neurodiversity, and work towards everyone being more accepting of it."

Sergio Cocchia O.B.C. LL.D. (Hon), Board Chair & President of Pacific Autism Family Network

Vision for an accessible and inclusive airport of the future

The philosophy of Paper Planes Café extends beyond providing great service; it is a tangible illustration of YVR and PAFN's shared vision to make travel accessible and enjoyable for everyone. The partnership, initiated in 2021, reflects a commitment to creating a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible travel experience for individuals of all abilities.

This initiative and the longstanding partnership behind it aligns with Beyond Accessibility, a three-year plan building on YVR's long-standing work and commitment to creating an accessible airport.

For your next cup of coffee

Paper Planes Café is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and its strategic location in the Domestic Arrivals area ensures it becomes a focal point for travellers seeking a welcoming and inclusive space to unwind.

About Vancouver International Airport (YVR):
YVR is a diverse global hub that connects people, cargo, data, and ideas and serves as a platform for the community to come together and thrive. They are motivated by supporting regional economic development and making a positive difference in the lives of British Columbians. They do this with a focus on serving their passengers, partners, workers, and community through digital modernization, climate leadership, reconciliation, and financial sustainability.

About Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN):
PAFN is a centre of excellence and a network of support for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families across the province. Over 15k people have found resources on PAFN's national knowledge network, and they organize 10+ unique annual sensory-inclusive events.

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