In a vocational setting, potential is defined as having or showing the capacity to develop skills and abilities in the future. Happily, that is something we experience every day at The Meadows.
Because we employ adults with developmental disabilities and other intellectual and physical challenges, it is our responsibility to provide them with the opportunity to improve their existing skills while assisting them as they learn new vocational tasks.
Many of the people we hire have waited years, even decades, to earn a paycheck. So, because this is their first job, it takes time and patience to properly evaluate their capabilities. Of course, potential is unique to each of our employees. Every person has different strengths that deserve to be encouraged and supported.
Recognizing the potential in a worker requires us to make a fair assessment without preconceived notions. Just because someone has a particular challenge, we do not believe limitations should automatically be assumed. If there is an issue, it is addressed, and if modifications or adaptions are required, we make the necessary changes.
Obviously, a person will excel at some assignments while finding others more challenging. But in our system, there is work suitable for each individual. It is just a matter of determining what is appropriate.
That is why we never compare people. It’s not fair, and it is counterproductive to the positive environment we strive to create. A person should never feel pressured to perform as fast as someone else. We want an individual to work comfortably and steadily, and that cannot happen if they feel compelled to set a pace that is not sustainable.
But employment for men and women with developmental disabilities means more than just having a job. It helps them grow as a person. They take on more responsibility and learn the value of being part of a team. They set goals and strive to achieve them. The interactions they have with coworkers and customers improve their social skills. Their sense of belonging increases their self-esteem and gives them confidence.
And to ensure those positive qualities remain a part of their lives, we provide long-term job security. As our employees age, additional health issues can occur that might make a difference in what they can accomplish. However, we believe that just because someone’s proficiency at their job is altered, it does not mean they have any less right to work. Adjustments can be made, and expectations can be revised. If their safety is not compromised, employment should not be denied to someone just because their health has changed.
Every person with a developmental disability deserves to reach their potential. There can be no exceptions. All of society benefits when everyone is allowed to achieve what they can, accomplish what they are capable of, and make the maximum contribution possible.
It is unacceptable if men and women with intellectual challenges do not receive the opportunities they deserve. An individual can have tremendous potential, but that’s all it will ever be if they are not allowed to develop it.
Over the last 40 years, it has been our privilege to watch the incredible transformations that have taken place in people’s lives, all because someone believed in them and gave them a chance.
In the future, the mission of The Meadows will remain unchanged. We will continue to employ adults with intellectual disabilities so that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.