|Haircare company Beauty & Pin-Ups hired Katie Meade as the face of a product, a first for a woman with Down syndrome|
Today I went to Antonio's Hair Salon and not only received a fabulous haircut but also a heartwarming surprise. I saw a man with Down Syndrome and his aide/helper working on folding towels. I went over to say hello to him and let him know what a wonderful job he was doing and he was very happy that I interacted with him.
How wonderful to see a local small business take an interest in making this opportunity available in our community! I applaud Antonio’s for welcoming this man into their salon and I look forward to rewarding their business with my repeated visits there. I would love to see more local small businesses follow this lead and include our citizens with disabilities so openly during the day with opportunities to interact within the community.
If anyone happens to see this young man at Antonio’s please go and say hello to him for a moment!
Peg's letter had a real impact on me. I realized that when I've seen people with disability (PWD) working at stores, supermarkets or elsewhere, I've been grateful but I haven't taken the time to commend the managers or owners. Which is important, because they should know how much what they're doing matters to customers, along with the families of people who are disabled.
It is still not common for stores to employ people with disability. It's gotten somewhat better, and there are more work programs out there, but still: not common. Think about it; how many stores or restaurants in your area have people with disability on staff? Per the most recent statistics from the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for a person with disability in 2014 was 12.5%, about twice the figure of people without disability.
I'm pretty sure I speak for a lot of parents of children with special needs when I say it gives us a surge of hope when we see people with disability on the job. Meanwhile, it's good for stores that are employing PWD to get positive reinforcement from customers, and to know that people will support their business because they are a true equal-opportunity employer.
Last week, the bagger for my line at the supermarket had an intellectual disability. How Deep is Your Love was playing on the store's sound system, and we had a good conversation about the Bee Gees. Neither of us could remember which one of them was still alive, although the cashier did (Barry). After I paid, I headed over to the courtesy desk, found a store manager and told him how much I appreciated the fact that the store hired people with disability. OK, so I also told him that I didn't enjoy waiting 15 minutes at the under-staffed deli counter to get some sliced turkey but, hey, I was keeping it real.
Here's one simple way to pay it forward today: Haircare company Beauty & Pin-Ups has an ad campaign featuring Katie Meade, a 32-year-old who has Down syndrome. It's the first time a woman with Down syndrome is the face of a beauty product, a new hair masque called Fearless. A portion of all Beauty & Pin-Ups sales benefits Best Buddies International—that's how the CEO of the company first met Katie. Send a tweet to @BeautyAndPinups thanking them or leave a message on their Facebook page.
Going forward, when I see people with disabilities working at stores or restaurants, I'm going to make it my business to let management know how much I appreciate and value that. It would be so awesome if people who didn't have a family member with a disability did that, too.
Images: Beauty & Pin-Ups