Living the Dream

I had heard about a young restaurateur who happened to have Down syndrome a few months ago, but today I was sent a link to a youtube video about this young man. Take a look:

I have imagined a “Tim’s Place” for years. A business owned by one of my grown NACD kids, a place that can take advantage of their talents, a place where they can contribute, make a difference, make a living, and spend their days doing something they can be passionate about. For a number of years I have been encouraging the parents of children with developmental issues to look toward their children’s futures and start thinking about creating a business to help take advantage of those talents, abilities, and passions. Tim is a good example. Like so many of our kids Tim obviously really likes people and defines a “people person.” I suspect that Tim also remembers people’s names very well, as so many of our kids do, and I suspect that once he has met you that you get added to his list of friends. Tim is ideally suited to be the upfront, greeting-the-customers small business owner.

I have been frustrated along with many of our families with the lack of opportunities for our young adults. I have seen families work hard to help their children develop their cognitive function, the academic abilities, social skills, and to become highly capable and then fail to find meaningful work as adults. I have even had individuals with Down syndrome get regular high school diplomas and even college degrees and still not find decent jobs, let alone jobs that they could be passionate about.

The job world is not kind to our kids. If you look at the reality of employment, you start off with the real unemployment rate, which could be pushing 20%. So what is the unemployment rate for people who are really short, have a speech impediment, have any physical problem, or who just look a bit different? If it were possible to gather these numbers they would be ugly; and add on any type of mental challenge and the reality is truly frightening. Enter the NACD Foundation “Exceptional Entrepreneurs” Project:

Through the NACD Foundation I would like to bring together a volunteer team of parents, business and legal folks to help us create some templates to help our families help get businesses going for their kids. I have also wanted to build some models such as coffee shops and perhaps have the Foundation assist in raising funds to help build some of these businesses for the kids.

I’ve had a dream, and Tim’s Place: Where breakfast, lunch and HUGS are served is the realization of that dream for one deserving, lucky young man. We need to help more of our kids live this dream.