Our daughter, Noelle, is on the cusp of adulthood. She’s an engaging 21-year-old with Down Syndrome, who is excited about what the future holds. We’ve helped her develop a vision of the life she wants to lead and employment is an important part of it. Why? A job will provide structure, purpose, and fulfillment to her life. It will help define her identity, influencing how she sees herself in the community and how the community sees her. How will this happen? Through the opportunities that employment provides for relationships, achievement and community inclusion.
Relationships – Life is more fun with friends! Young adults with disabilities can face challenges building and maintaining friendships. To avoid social isolation, they need opportunities to build and sustain meaningful relationships. The workplace can provide the types of opportunities for social interaction that can help build friendships. Noelle has experienced this in her volunteer role at a local nursing home. She has used her wit and charm to connect with patients in ways that others have not, bringing happiness to them and their families. The staff have embraced her too, surprising her last month with a birthday cake and delivering a collective smile!
Achievement – Employment provides opportunities for achievement, and achievement provides opportunities for fulfillment. A job can present daily opportunities for task completion and skill development; helping individuals with disabilities build their identity. Noelle exudes pride when she completes tasks and masters skills. You can’t wipe the smile off her face when we enter the local restaurant where she interns. She excitedly explains her role at the restaurant and introduces us to her manager. The impact of her workplace achievements are self-evident.
Noelle practices her elevator pitch during
a PwC sponsored session on job seeking skills.
Community Inclusion – If you are not present in the community, are you really part of the community? Too often individuals with disabilities lack employment opportunities in their local communities. The benefits of working near home are obvious – reduced commuting times, familiar settings, and, most importantly, the opportunity to be seen. Being seen allows one to experience the benefits of the community and interact with neighbors, friends, teachers, and family. Noelle loves being seen! Seeing acquaintances at local stores, restaurants, and other community settings can be the highlight of her day. Having these opportunities at work would have a meaningful impact on her life.
The impact of employment extends beyond the traditional wage for services model of an employer/employee relationship. A job often influences an individual’s identity – how they see themselves and how others see them. This is especially true for individuals with disabilities. As Noelle begins to search for jobs in earnest, our focus will be on helping her find a position that provides opportunities for relationships, achievement, and community inclusion.
Employment for individuals with disabilities should provide opportunities for relationships, achievement and community inclusion.
If you are a person with a disability seeking inclusive employment or an employer seeking diverse
candaites sign up to Work Without Limits Job Board
If you are an employer seeking great talent such
as Noelle, join our Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN) to gain access to all WWL has to offer!