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Employment of individuals with developmental disabilities beneficial to Lake County

By Kristi Garabrandt, The News-Herald
Published Saturday, October 7, 2017

get a lot of good-will back,” Ina said. “It’s nice to give back to, so it’s a two-way street, it’s been a pleasure. “They are part of the family. It brings happiness to both our lives,”

Lake Employment Experience Program, a school-to-work transition program located at Broadmoor School, is also part of Lake County Board of DD and Deepwood industries.

The students in the transition program work at businesses throughout Lake County such as Betty’s Boutique, McKinley Outreach Center, Kirtland Community of Christ Church, Lake Farm Park, Mentor Ice Arena, Breckenridge, JFK Senior Center, Lake Erie College, Symphony of Mentor, St. Noel, Tripoint, Mentor Library and Karate for Kids. 

They perform a wide range of duties, including sorting laundry, food prep, and housekeeping. Some also run delivery and pick up routes.

Symphony of Mentor is one of the newer collaboration with students having only been there about a year, but Executive Director Wayne Louis says it’s a great partnership providing benefits to both the students and residents.

According to Louis, the students benefit from the interactions, and feeling like they belong and that they are helping and giving back to the community, while the residents benefit also from the interactions, especially those in memory care, it reminds them of when they were parents.

“I think it’s fantastic” said LEEP teacher Nicole Fisher. “We really built some relationships here and the students benefit from learning job ethic skills, and meeting people from the community. It’s been great, very positive on both ends. 

Gabi Layton, 21, is a LEEP student who really enjoys her work at Symphony of Mentor where she is working towards gaining her independence and on employability skills for future jobs.

Scott Schiavoni, 20, works at housekeeping and also sets table in the dining room at the facility with his one-on-one aide Phil Moses.

Schiavoni said what he enjoys most about his job is working with the Alzheimer’s patients.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the Employment First Executive Order in 2012, creating a policy that set the direction towards improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, according to Landwei-Phillips. It was also noted that people with disabilities, 54 million individuals, comprise the third largest market segment in the United States. These individuals along with their family and friends control a trillion dollars in purchasing power. 

“Research shows that consumers, disabled and non-disabled, favor businesses that employ workers with disabilities,” Landwei-Phillips noted. “Strategic planning in the 21st century should promote a diverse and integrated workforce that meets the needs of both consumers and customers. It makes sense for businesses to employ individuals with disabilities.”

This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in The News-Herald. The original story can be found at:

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