People With Disabilities Have A Hard Time Finding Jobs, And This Company Is Doing Something About It

People With Disabilities Have A Hard Time Finding Jobs, And This Company Is Doing Something About It
|

A nonprofit movie theater in Connecticut is committed to giving people with physical or developmental disabilities an opportunity to succeed in the workforce.

At the Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, 60 percent of the staff are people with disabilities.

"It's an incredibly talented pool," Mike Santini, director of development for the organization told The Huffington Post. "They're an untapped resource. They're really excited about their jobs, and they're really dedicated. They just need a workplace that's accommodating and welcoming."

theater

The current job market is a tough place for those with disabilities. In 2013, only about 17.6 percent of individuals with disabilities were employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (for comparison 64 percent of people without a disability were employed at that time).

Santini told HuffPost that The Prospect Theater's founder, Valerie Jensen, who has a sister with Down syndrome, noticed the lack of programs addressing unemployment among people with disabilities.

"One thing that [Jensen] saw was a problem that there were so many resources for different activities, like crafts and art projects," Santini explained. "But across the board they were all lacking employment opportunities."

movie

The nonprofit hopes to help change this by proving that people with disabilities are valuable employees. The Prospector Theater, which opened this past November, trained its workers, who serve popcorn, make drinks and greet patrons as ushers, using a specialized process so they are better able to master their tasks.

"Traditional employment just places people with disabilities in training programs not tailored to them. But we give individualized training," Santini told HuffPost. "For making popcorn, we have the standard manual. But we also have a comic strip that can show them how to do it. And also a video, and different training materials, depending on the learner."

theater

The nonprofit also wants to show their workers that their interests can be turned into a profession.

"Our main goal is to tap into people's passions. We call it their 'inherent sparkle,'" the director said. "If [they] like drawing, we'll pair them with an appropriate job and stimulating job where they can express that skill."

To learn more about Prospector Theater or to make a donation, visit its website here.

Before You Go

Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn
Two Peas And Their Pod
Get the Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn recipe from Two Peas And Their Pod
Beer Braised Chili Cheese Nachos
Spork of Foon?
Get the Beer Braised Chili Cheese Nachos recipe from Spork or Foon?
Party Pretzel Bites
fiveandspice via Food52
Get the Party Pretzel Bites Recipe from fiveandspice via Food52
Almond Joys
Kristin Rosenau via Food 52
Get the Almond Joy Candy Bars recipe from Kristin Rosenau via Food52
Homemade "Reeses" Peanut Butter Cups
One Good Thing
Get the Homemade "Reeses" Peanut Butter Cups recipe from One Good Thing
Beer Chili and Cheese Dogs
The Beeroness
Get the Beer Chili and Cheese Dogs recipe from The Beeroness
Homemade Butterfingers
Buns In My Oven
Get the Homemade Butterfinger Candy Bars recipe from Buns In My Oven
Soft Pretzels with Jalapeño Cheese Dip
Pip & Ebby
Get the Soft Pretzels with Jalapeño Cheese Dip recipe by Pip & Ebby
Bacon Caramel Popcorn
The Endless Meal
Get the Bacon Caramel Popcorn recipe by The Endless Meal
Homemade Tootsie Rolls
Heather Baird via Food52
Get the Homemade Tootsie Rolls recipe from Heather Baird via Food52
Chili Lime Popcorn
With Style
Get the Chili-Lime Popcorn recipe by With Style
Homemade Snickers
How Sweet It Is
Get the Homemade Snickers recipe from How Sweet It Is
Near Perfect Nachos
Machismo
Get the Near Perfect Nachos recipe from Machismo
Homemade Twix Bars
Bakers Royale
Get the Homemade Twix recipe from Bakers Royale
Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Bites
Two Peas & Their Pod
Get the Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Bites recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod