Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Companies That Employ Individuals With Down Syndrome

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As I wrap up this campaign, I was so impressed by all the amazing entrepreneurs or individuals with Down Syndrome that own a business or are working at a meaningful job that I shared with you.

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I am also very impressed by all the companies/nonprofits that are helping adults with Down syndrome find jobs, employing them or teaching them, that I wanted to share a few that I came across:

Aspire Coffee – At Aspire CoffeeWorks, adults with and without disabilities work side by side to bring you freshly roasted coffee. It’s a productive and successful environment and a great example of how people of all abilities can work and succeed together.

When people promote and demonstrate a way of living that embraces and celebrates the inclusion of those with disabilities, everyone is better and stronger for it. At Aspire, and at its social enterprise Aspire CoffeeWorks, this is not a goal or a dream but a belief lived out every day.

Aspire is one of the most innovative human service non-profits in the Midwest with an incredibly talented and dedicated team of more than 250. Plus, Aspire is backed by 200 community partners, thousands of donors, volunteers and family, and friends who work together to redefine what’s possible for people with disabilities. Annually, Aspire serves over 900 participants, who have autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Creekside Cookies and More, Inc. – Creekside Cookies and More is a not for profit organization begun by parents of young adults with Down Syndrome. It was uniquely created out of a need to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities in the community. Through our “old fashioned“ mixes, we wish to share with others the creativity and abilities of these young people while providing a vocational resource that helps to build skills and create hope for those with developmental disabilities.

Inspires2Aspire – Inspires 2 Aspire became a reality in 2009 with the assistance of the Summit DD Community Employment Services Micro-Enterprise Grant Program and my family support group. We share a portion of our profits with organizations who support individuals with developmental disabilities.

Simply Adorable Blankets – is a non-profit 5013C organization. Their organization was created to provide more opportunities for young adults with disabilities in Southeastern Virginia. They promote awareness, provide resources and offer training to people with developmental disabilities.
All of this helps them to become independent, productive members of the community.

Waggies by Maggie & Friends – Waggies by Maggie & Friends is a non-profit dog treat company whose mission is to employ persons with intellectual disabilities. Their all-natural, vet-approved treats are made with the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives. A purchase of Waggies rewards your dog while supporting employment for members of the community who want to be part of the workforce. It’s a winning combination!

Beau’s Coffee – is a 5013C nonprofit, a special coffee shop run by very special people in Wilmington, NC

This campaign came to me as I met a lovely young woman who was at a local conference. She had a table there as she was representing her business Pampered Chef, and it came to me.

As parents and individuals with Down syndrome are reaching the end of their high school years and are considering what to do next, whether it be secondary education, going into the job field, volunteering or running a business. There are plenty of at work from home online sales businesses that they can get into, for example:

Pampered Chef

Scentsy Candles

Mary Kay

Young Living Essential Oils

Stella & Dot

to name a few. You just need to work with your child to determine what it is that they want to do and build a team to get them there.  Transition planning usually starts around 14 years old. Their IEP team will start talking to you about transition planning, and that is the time you will sit down with your child to find out their career aspirations. What do they like to do, do they want to go on to college?


Transition planning

Unemployment rate for individuals with Down syndrome is high, but it doesn’t mean they can’t work. It doesn’t mean they can’t run a business. You just need to give them the right tools to be successful!


21 amazing down syndrome entrepreneurs


1st Entrepreneur – Andrew Banar from Group Hug Apparel


Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Meet Our Nineteenth Entrepreneur With Down Syndrome

Special & Deteremined WDSD - Troy Drake s


Meet our nineteenth entrepreneur with Down Syndrome – Troy Drake.

Troy is an incredibly talented entrepreneur from Nevada. After his family realized how difficult it was going to be for Troy to find a meaningful job, since unemployment rate for individuals with Down Syndrome is so high, they took a leap of faith and opened up a company that makes wooden inspirational signs, personalized items and other home décor.

Hence the birth of Doodle Duck Design 47. An online Etsy shop of products created by Troy himself.

You need to check out Troy’s shop, he has such wonderful signs. Here are a few examples of some I like:




Please continue following us as we celebrate 21 entrepreneurs who own their own business, have a meaningful job and the companies that are hiring individuals with Down syndrome, as we lead up to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.

Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Meet Our Eleventh Entrepreneur With Down Syndrome

Special & Deteremined WDSD - Sarah Ely s It’s time to meet our eleventh entrepreneur with Down syndrome – I am pleased to introduce you Sarah Ely.

Sarah has always loved fabric, and since her Mom was about ready to open up a fabric store, Sarah’s mom researched ways to teach Sarah to sew. In her research, Sarah’s mom stumbled upon a nationwide challenge called the “1 Million Pillowcase” Challenge, a nationwide effort to give away handmade pillowcases to foster children, cancer patients and victims of domestic violence. But what stuck with Sarah was “cancer patients’ and all she could think about was her blogging friend Kristen in Utah, who had leukemia and her first sewing project began.

Sarah was hooked she now, has a business called “Down Right Charming” where she sells her quilts and pillowcase on Etsy, she created a shop and she donates the money to cancer patients in the hospital.

You can find Sarah’s work at Down Right Charming.

The interesting thing about this story is not only Sarah making and selling quilts online, but her Mom fabric shop provides employment for creative persons of all abilities including those with Down syndrome.

Please visit Jellen’s House of Fabric.

Please continue following us as we celebrate 21 entrepreneurs who own their own business, have a meaningful job and the companies that are hiring individuals with Down syndrome, as we lead up to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st.

Down Syndrome In The Workplace – Meet Our Fourth Entrepreneur with Down Syndrome

Special & Deteremined WDSD - Blake Pyron s Ready to meet our fourth entrepreneur with Down Syndrome?

Let me take this time to introduce you to Blake Pyron, a hard working individual, entrepreneur with Down Syndrome who was Prom King and Captain of his Football Team, to now be the only business owner in Texas with Down Syndrome to own his own business.

20 years earlier his parents were told by the nurses and doctors when Blake was born “don’t expect a lot” but they always expected more from him, and Blake always gives 110%.

He has his first employee, his 15 year old friend to help him with his snow cone business, and they opened May 2015. Mother’s Day to be exact, to inspire all mothers.

“It’s much bigger then a snow shake, it’s showing everybody with a disability your dreams can come true” shared Blake’s Mom.

They hope to bring a Blake’s Snow Shake to all towns in Texas.

Make sure and try one of his 20 different flavors!

Please share this with others and follow us over the next 21 days as we lead up to World Down Syndrome Day on 3/21 and share with you 21 entrepreneurs with Down Syndrome who are running their own business.

Bringing Down Syndrome Awareness To The Classroom

S stands for superhero not just special
I love this picture, it really sums it all up for us. “S stands for super hero, not just special”, and that is exactly what my son is – our SUPER HERO!

As I looked down at his beautiful, chubby face over nine years ago; I made a promise to a small, fragile little boy that “it was going to be me and him”. I’m sure his father felt the same way as did all of his family, but for me it was very personal. I knew from that day forward we were going to be a “team”, a team with a mission to advocate for awareness and inclusion and that is exactly what we are doing.

For the last several years, I have been going into my son’s schools and doing a Down Syndrome Awareness presentation, to help his classmates better understand him and his uniqueness, and bring awareness “that Jacob is just like every other child“. He may have an extra chromosome, but he really is just like any other typical boy, he may just needs some extra help, to do things that come naturally for typically developing children.

at jacobs school

I love having the opportunity to speak to “young, impressionable minds”. Kids love to learn and ask questions, and by me going into the classrooms and talking with them, I am allowing them the opportunity to get to know my son and his diagnosis of Down syndrome. To be able to ask their questions in a safe environment, like the typical question of “can they catch Down syndrome“? The conversation is positive and productive and this opens up the door for understanding and inclusion. Which I hope next will come compassion and friendship.

It also helps the school personnel (therapists, aides, learning specialists) who work with Jacob to get to know him more personally. One of the aides came up to me after my presentation and thanked me for coming in and talking to the class, as it gave him a better perspective on Jacob. He mentioned that “it allowed him to see Jacob through a different lens” and I thought that was so important and I loved hearing that. It validated to me that going into classrooms and spreading awareness, is really helping people’s understanding of children with Down syndrome.

Jacob loves that the conversation is about him. I like that the conversation is positive and productive. As I talk to the kids and share with them things about Jacob, like how he enjoys playing basketball or they see pictures of him with his friends from IN, you see this invisible weight of misconception being lifted in the room. They become more engaged. They start seeing him more like them.

at jacobs school 2

Since Down Syndrome Awareness Month is in October and the leaves were changing, I thought what a wonderful opportunity to do a hands on project with kids using the leaves. As I gave them their instructions and the leaves were being passed out, you heard them talking.

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It was awesome to hear what they were saying, “how the leaves are different sizes, shapes and colors but that they were still leaves”.

group project

They “got it“, they got the premise of the activity. So with that, instead of me talking about why we did that project, I decided that I would have one of them tell what they saw.


And what came out of the boy’s mouth, was amazing. He saw “the differences in the leaves, but he also saw how beautiful they were”. One little girl shared she saw “how the colors were bright like Jacob is”. It was interesting to see the teacher and principal look at each other in amazement at their responses. That the presentation was truly resonating with them.

So in the end it was an awesome experience to be so welcomed by the class and to be able to share with them about Down syndrome, inclusion, and friendship. Jacob really felt like the rock star that day!

Jacob and me

Later in the day, I got an email from the teacher thanking me and telling me how the kids were still talking about the presentation. I was even at a Halloween party that weekend and one of the Moms whose son is in the class, thanked me for going in and talking to the kids. That it really made a lasting impression on her son. I felt good, because again it validated the need for this awareness.

Now for the icing on the cake. To get this in my son’s backpack the next day from the students made me want to cry. They really listened, they were really interested.

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So I will end this with this:

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