Recently, Ian and I attended a DSWorkFit conference day.
The Down Syndrome Association are increasingly assisting more and more employers in a number of industries through their WorkFit programme. This is to ensure people with Down Syndrome find suitable work and or placements.
The day itself consisted of talks by employers, all who have employed people with Down Syndrome or have been able to give them work experience placements. They spoke of how working alongside DSWorkFit made the whole process a success. So much so that with excitement and enthusiasm, many have gone on to employ more people with Down Syndrome. They say their companies are far better for it.
People with Down Syndrome also spoke from their own personal journeys of how being accepted into employment has benefitted them in many ways. As one young man said, it was a “proper dream come true.” There were also a few parents of people who have Down Syndrome speaking from their perspective.
It became clear very quickly how when the work industry partners with the support and structure that DSWorkFit offers. Every person involved benefits hugely, as does society as a whole.
For Ian and myself, this was all highly informative. We realised that we were there wearing two hats. One hat from the perspective as company owners who would dearly love to employ or offer a placement for a person with Down Syndrome. Also to use our resources of contacts to seek employment for the candidates in other settings, such as schools.
Our second hat that is worn at all times with any connection to Down Syndrome, is our parental sombrero. It’s hard to miss with its wide brim and passionate colourful patterns. It was from this perspective that made the day at times very overwhelming. Half an hour into the first session and I had hardly stopped silently crying, thank goodness we had placed ourselves at the back of the room side table. This was followed after lunch with Ian leaving the room for a short while to compose himself.
Here is why!
We have never sat in a room where every person has so much love, so much passion, so much positivity and drive to include people with Down Syndrome into, well, in simple terms, life. This was a gathering of all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, wanting to offer their piece of the puzzle that helps create the fully engaging picture of life for people with Down Syndrome. No exclusion and no difference made than they would for any other person in society who are able to work.