Maddie, the venue manager at a local café, has a commitment to her local community. She was approached by the Ticket to Work network to potentially provide some work experience for Mia, a year 12 student with Down Syndrome. Maddie says, “I wanted to give someone a go.”
Mia started her work experience at the café working two afternoons per week, using a customised plan that Maddie and Mia’s employment consultant (Ticket to Work) created for her. This is the first time Maddie and the café had worked with someone with a disability. Maddie says that having support to get the ball rolling and putting all the stepping stones in place help make it successful. Plus Mia mom was brilliant helping the café team in the beginning.
Towards the completion of the work experience, Maddie decided to offer Mia a paid job.
“I hadn’t originally thought about it as ongoing employment until her mum set up a meeting. I realised that it was something we could offer. Mia was going well and I thought, ‘so why not give her a go.’ It was just about creating a structure that worked for her and us.”
Maddie has seen Mia confidence grow since being at the café.
“I see Mia approaching other staff members, starting conversations, approaching customers to take orders, not quite as shy as she was.” After Mia moved onto a paid contract, Maddie worked with Mia and adjusted her hours to come up with the right schedule that works for both the business and Mia.
“I think my favourite time was watching Mia use her initiative to take an order. It was really amazing to see that happen, that her confidence had grown that she is doing things of her own bat,” Maddie says.
For Maddie and the café, employing Mia involved seeing an opportunity where they could provide structure and process for a young person with disability, allowing her to be successful at work.
“All Mia wants is to have the opportunity to have a normal life. We could offer that. I think any business can do it. It’s important to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons and have the ability to make an environment for the student to progress.”
Maddie is happy that Mia is now part of the team. “I think that having a disability shouldn’t limit these kids to constant care. She (Mia) doesn’t need that, I think there can be systems developed to help them do more and I’m thrilled we were able take Mia on”.
“It’s definitely been worth it,” Maddie says.
*names have been changed in this story*