Autism Self-advocate Stuns Disability Professionals by Bringing Community Leadership for Inclusion to a New Level
Nathan Young creates jobs and brings awareness to what he calls a community work and inclusion industry for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities
FORTUNA, Calif., Nov. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Historically, disability workshops provide some of the only job opportunities for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, but these programs generally lead to segregation and pay subpar wages. Tired of limited inclusive job opportunities, Nathan Young -- a self-advocate -- decided to create change in this system, and thus Compassionate Integrations (C.I.) was born. Nathan's project allows such people to learn the skills needed to hold a job and progress in the workforce. The amount of progress this project has already made shows that people with developmental disabilities are more capable than they have previously been credited for, and are, thus, worthy of equal opportunity jobs. Nathan hopes that other communities can learn from this success and implement similar aspects in their own programs.
C.I. started Humboldt Candles as a community experiment, which was originally funded by just a few hundred dollars for supplies. The project started out selling aromatic candles to family friends, but sales quickly spread to local farmer's markets, and eventually, with the encouragement of Disability Services, achieved its first front page article.
Over the next few years, several more articles were published, PSAs shared on local radio, and the project was even televised on local news stations. All of this allowed the project to generate consciousness and a community following. Nathan Young states, "It is for awareness, and so, initially, all of the money generated by the project went to creating awareness. Enough handmade awareness candles were given away to give everyone in town an average of about two candles."
C.I. has been focused on national potential lately -- branded Autism Candles -- and there has already been success. Autism Speaks, and other fans of the project, have helped by sharing autismcandles.com with millions on their social media sites. This has enabled the project to generate awareness without expending unnecessary resources, allotting more for payroll.
Nathan Young hopes to continue working to find more ways to increase public awareness, and empower inclusion. "Products," he states, "are but a minor part of the vision. People can be included in traditional work forces. Improving this requires areas to include assisted skills development facilitated by agencies serving individuals with developmental disabilities." He calls his community organizing advocacy "Area Includes," and believes if communities were more aware, a great deal more independence and positive outcomes would result. Nathan also states, "Inclusion is a matter of quality of life. The more ways we create inclusion as communities, instead of depending on the government, the better."
For more information about Autism Candles, and to support jobs this holiday season, please contact Compassionate Integrations.
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SOURCE Autism Candles