For Immediate Release:
March 21, 2019
Chief of Communications
Deputy Chief of Communications
Businesses Offer Job Shadowing Opportunities to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – A dozen Arkansas businesses opened their doors to people with developmental disabilities today by providing job shadowing opportunities or holding open houses. Earlier this month, Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and named March 21 as Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day. Employment Support Day encourages businesses to participate in expanding employment opportunities to Arkansans with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
More than a dozen individuals with developmental disabilities took part in the event by shadowing or touring one of the participating businesses.
“We hope to start a culture, that people realize people that we ordinarily say have disabilities are really people with abilities. Everyone has some ability, and you never know how great a job they can do until you give them a shot,” said Fred Norman of Flavours in Maumelle. “If you put someone with an ability to work, they become tax paying citizens and they are so proud of being able to do that. The state is getting better and better at trying to find jobs for people with abilities, and I just hope more employers will jump right on in, cause the water’s fine!”
In 2017, only one out of every ten people with disabilities had a paid job in the community, according to the NCI Results from People Across Arkansas 2016-2017 report. Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day aims to lead to more employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in their communities across the state and introduce employers to those in their communities who are interested in exploring those opportunities.
“We have several businesses who have participated today, particularly in the Central Arkansas area, and we are excited to see this event get even bigger and better,” said Melissa Stone, Director of Developmental Disabilities Services. “Today is one piece of the effort we’ll be continuing throughout the year to promote Supported Employment opportunities so that more businesses understand and get to experience the value of hiring people with developmental disabilities and seeing the contributions they can make to their local businesses and communities.”
The businesses who participated today included:
- Access Health Services
- Kroger – Morrilton location
- Pinnacle Hearing
- Taziki’s – Little Rock locations on Cantrell, Chenal, & Bass Pro Pkwy; North Little Rock & Conway locations
- The Little Gym – Little Rock location
- The Wonder Place
- Think Coffee – Conway
Employment Support Day is sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS), the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), and other community partners.
State agencies regularly partner through programs like the State Agency Model Employer (SAME) and the Employment First initiative to offer employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
To find out more about Supported Employment for people with developmental disabilities through DHS, visit: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/ddds/supported-employment.
For b-roll video and interview clips from Employment Support Day, click here: