Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Businesses in Canadian city encouraged to hire people with intellectual disabilities

From The Post-Leader:

REGINA, Canada — The Regina and District Association for Community Living (RDACL) hopes to encourage more Regina businesses to explore the untapped potential of employing people with intellectual disabilities.

The non-profit organization, dedicated to including people with intellectual disabilities in the community, is hosting the Celebration of Inclusion Awards on Oct. 29 at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. At the event, businesses and individuals will be recognized for supporting inclusion.

"It's a matter of social justice," said RDACL executive director Faith Savares. She noted that most intellectually disabled people are underemployed or unemployed.

"I think sometimes (employers) see a person where the work may have to be adapted or someone who may work at a slower rate and so on," Savares explained. "But they don't see some of the other benefits."

Starbucks in Chapters will be presented with the Honourable Mention for Real Work Award for employing Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School student Robbie Keith.

His mom, Susan, nominated manager Khris Rasmussen for employing her son.

When Rasmussen first transferred to the Regina store, the district manager wanted her to consider hiring Keith when his work experience program ended.

"He really wanted to stay there, but it was the initiative of Starbucks, in particular Khris," said Susan.

After meeting with Keith (pictured), Rasmussen did just that — in fact, Keith was her first hire. Susan said the unpaid work experience had gone very well and Rasmussen set up the opportunity for him to be employed.

"They treat him just like any other worker," said Susan. "It's a really great experience for Robbie."

Susan said her son was happy to hear Rasmussen was receiving an award acknowledging her for hiring Robbie.

"Robbie is wonderful. Hiring him was probably one of the best things I did at the store," said Rasmussen.

She described Robbie as very friendly, good with customers and one of the most positive people she has ever met.

"You can't hire somebody that would have a better attitude," she added.

Rasmussen said she was surprised to be nominated but felt very grateful.