LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – March is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana. All month long, News 18 has brought you stories about local resources for people who have disabilities.
Tuesday morning, News 18 This Morning brought you the story of a small Lafayette business owner who is encouraging other employers to give everyone a chance.
Twenty-two year old Cameron Dunn has been working at Once Upon a Child children’s clothing store in Lafayette for nearly a decade.
“He’s been just such a great addition to our operation,” owner Jamie Brinn said.
Brinn employs 19 people at her store. However, Dunn isn’t necessarily like any of Brinn’s other employees. She said he’s unique in his own, special way.
“Cameron is autistic,” Brinn explained. “So, he has a difficult time with new situations. He has a difficult time with people asking him questions and his speech is delayed.”
Brinn and Dunn crossed paths when she worked as his occupational therapist while he was growing up in school.
“We started a cooperative where we had the kids come and do job skills here at my store,” Brinn said. “He went to Harrison High School and got into the jobs program at Harrison and had a job coach with him at Once Upon A Child.”
Once Dunn finished school, Brinn said she felt a calling to continue her journey with him.
“Following that, we decided to hire him as one of our employees,” Brinn explained. “He brings so much joy to everyone here and we all look forward to having him here.”
Christine McGlothlin is an employment training specialist at the Wabash Center in Lafayette. She specializes in finding people with disabilities, like Dunn, a job in the Greater Lafayette community.
“We’ll basically go with them and go through a profile,” McGlothlin explained. “Basically we determine what their skills are, what their interests are, where their strengths are and then we try to match them up with employers needs.”
Both Brinn and McGlothlin said sometimes it’s easy to look past someone with a disability. However, both women said they encourage employers to give everyone a chance.
“Don’t shy away from them,” McGlothlin said. “They, too, have a lot to offer.”
“They really do have so much to offer,” Brinn said. “Cameron has really just given us so much more than what we have ever given him.”
For more information on resources available at the Wabash Center, click here.