The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program recognizes businesses that are committed to providing career and financial opportunities to individuals with unique abilities and to the organizations that support them. Participating businesses demonstrate their dedication to strengthening communities and the economy by helping these Floridians with untapped talents become more independent and by partnering with other businesses, organizations and state resources in this endeavor.
Epilepsy Foundation of Florida: Striving to Elevate the Lives of People Living with Epilepsy.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida leads the fight to overcome the challenges people living with epilepsy face and strives to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures and save lives. More than 400,000 Floridians are currently living with this condition.
The foundation provides many valuable services to Floridians with epilepsy and their families, regardless of their financial situation. These include: support groups, information and referrals, prevention and education, individualized case management, medical services, psychological services, healthcare navigation, advocacy, camps for children and more.
Diversity in the workplace has a positive impact and only makes a company stronger. Individuals with unique abilities, including those living with epilepsy, provide a different perspective when it comes to problem solving and showing empathy towards others. Hiring individuals with unique abilities also shows that the company or organization values people as people and is willing to make accommodations to foster togetherness, diversity, and social responsibility.
The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program is important because it encourages and enables businesses to take a leadership role and be at the forefront of helping foster independence for individuals with unique abilities. By participating in the program, a business takes a stand to support success for all Floridians.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) and serves as the largest agency for epilepsy programs and services in the state. Florida’s foundation is the sole licensee and affiliate in the state for the National Epilepsy Foundation, which has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The organization serves as the lead advocate for the rights and needs of people with epilepsy and seizures at the local, county, state and national level.
The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program recognizes businesses that are committed to providing career and financial opportunities to individuals with unique abilities and to assisting organizations that support them. For more information on how to join the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program, please click here.
Breaking Barriers – The Abilities Training Initiative
By Edward C. Peachey, President & CEO, CareerSource Pinellas
Thanks to The Able Trust, a nonprofit partnership that works to provide Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment, The Science Center of St. Petersburg, Florida, will be able to help dozens more people with disabilities like Jesse Lafferty. Jesse lives with PTSD so severe, it left him unemployed for over a year.
"There was no future. There was no light at the end of the tunnel," Jesse said.
The Science Center works to inspire, motivate and stimulate innovative thinking in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, and career development through instruction, hands-on, and experiential education delivered through partnerships with schools, corporations, universities, and community. Recently, CareerSource Pinellas was fortunate to receive a $250,000 grant from The Able Trust. The grant spans a period of three years and will enhance The Science Center’s collaboration with local employers and community partners to provide pre-vocational training and workforce readiness services to dozens of local residents with disabilities. The Abilities Training Initiative involves individual assessment, classroom training, on-the-job training, workforce readiness, job coaching, counseling, and supportive services, all of which allow individuals to smoothly transition in the workforce.
We are pleased to report that Jesse’s determination and the Able Trust contribution have granted him access to prevocational training for in-demand jobs in growing industries of manufacturing, construction, and information technology. He is now excelling in his new job in construction. To ensure successful training completion and job retention, Jesse went through a rigorous suitability assessment for training in the fields of Soldering & Cabling, Industrial Machine Maintenance, Manufacturing, Construction, Cyber Security, and Irrigation.
Jessie tells us, “I love my job. It makes me feel like I am making a difference. I enjoy being a part of the construction team.”
Recent research by the Florida Chamber Foundation concluded that of the 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities of working age, almost 63 percent are not in the workforce. This equates to an untapped talent pool of more than 700,000 individuals.
Susanne Homant, President of the Able Trust, explains this overwhelming need by highlighting that the biggest barrier people with disabilities have to overcome is misperceptions in the business community of what their capabilities are.
This program’s goal is to train those who are often overlooked and help them overcome barriers. With this mission in mind, we have projected to enroll 20 individuals within the first year of the Abilities Training Initiative program and successfully complete their pre-vocational training, while anticipating an employment rate of 65 percent. Concentrating on the skills that manufacturing employers want most, we plan to make a positive difference by supplying companies with the talent they need and giving individuals with unique abilities a new start in a great career.
Nemours Children’s Health System: Providing opportunities to children with disabilities
We’ve asked our partner programs to share how they support efforts to promote self-sufficiency for people with unique abilities. Below, Nemours Children’s Health System highlights their work to provide opportunities to children with disabilities.
What does Nemours Children’s Health System do to help people with unique abilities?
Nemours Children’s Health System offers specialized pediatric care to children and families from Florida and beyond and provides a wide range of programs for people with unique abilities.
One program that was particularly notable was through Nemours’ partnership with Special Olympics. In 2015, Nemours championed a 12-week Special Olympics Young Athletes program aimed to engage children with disabilities between the ages of two and seven. This partnership helped fill a void for families of children with unique abilities because traditional Special Olympics activities are only available to children eight years old or older.
Through the Young Athletes’ Program, children, along with their siblings, are invited to participate in developmentally appropriate play activities designed to foster physical, cognitive and social development. The program also gives participating children the opportunity to learn about sports and what it means to be part of a team. The effort was such a success that Nemours and the Special Olympics hosted a second year of the program in 2016.
Why is the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program important?
The Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program gives businesses a voice to share how they are making an impact on the disability community. In turn, it also encourages other businesses and organizations to join the movement in making our state more inclusive.
What does the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program mean to you?
Being part of the Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program reinforces our commitment to the children we serve through the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program. By building awareness in our community, it is our hope that one day the same children who participate in Special Olympics will have a wide variety of professional opportunities through a company or organization that values inclusive employment.