BY: QUENTIN STUCKEY
Let’s face it: jobs are hard to come by nowadays. Not only is it difficult to find an occupation that gives one a half decent pay cheque, it’s very difficult to find an occupation that one actually enjoys. However too often we forget how many job opportunities we garner when our physical and mental health is in proper capacity.
We all have to find a way to make money, but for individuals suffering from a disability, this is especially a difficult task. Individuals who suffer from physical and mental disabilities are both unfairly discriminated against when it comes to finding a job and their needs are not properly met in a workplace environment. As much as our society is moving towards more equal opportunities for everyone, this kind of inequality is still prevalent.
A coffee shop in Wilmington, North Carolina is working to create a more equal workplace dynamic. Bitty & Beau’s has a staff completely formed of employees with mental or developmental disabilities. Owned by Amy Wright, whose own children Bitty and Beau suffer from Down syndrome, Wright and her husband opened the coffee shop to create equal job opportunities for people afflicted with the same kind of condition.
According to Wright in the video below, it is estimated that seventy to eighty-five percent of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed. She additionally states that by employing workers with these afflictions, “the walls come down” demonstrating that these people are capable of having the same kind of jobs as anyone else, and committing to them with the same degree of effectiveness.
The owners have worked to establish a positive and welcoming café style atmosphere by not only creating jobs for people who do not receive the same opportunities but by also not constructing a drive thru option. Customers are encouraged to come in, order their hot beverage and take in the positive energy. Perhaps other businesses and workplaces can learn and appreciate what the owners of this coffee shop are setting out to do, creating jobs for everyone with no shame or discrimination against mental disabilities or afflictions.