Sunday, October 23, 2016

ABLE Store: Empowering Teens with Disabilities

If you have no disabilities, you may not have given much thought to the financial, psychological and emotional ramifications of not being able to do things that perfectly healthy people do automatically. If you look physically healthy, you may not have any awareness of the painful discrimination in all areas of life that people with disabilities live with on a daily basis. Imagine yourself in a wheelchair trying to negotiate a steep curb, trying to enter a building or some form of transportation, or attempting to enter a bathroom that fails to accommodate you. Aside from these and countless similar situations being inconvenient, they are very disempowering. They send the message that you’re not a worthy human being. People with intellectual disabilities also suffer similar types of discrimination on a daily basis. Their challenges are different, but they too are treated in ways that are very shaming and disempowering. 

I’m one of many people living with hidden disabilities. Because I look perfectly healthy and normal, people sometimes make shaming remarks when I tell them I won’t have the energy to attend their event or party, that I can’t go home and commute alone, that I need someone else to assist me to lift a heavy object, or that I can’t seem to see properly at night.

Wella here u one of the girls working for the ABLE Store.

Helping those with disabilities is one of my many personal advocacies. I was invited recently to the launch and opening of the ABLE Store, I immediately said yes without any hesitation.  ABLE Store is the country’s first and only retail store dedicated to hiring differently-abled teens. It is also the venue where Ablepreneurs (teens with physical and learning disabilities turned entrepreneurs) sell their specialty items crafted with love. Thanks to Quality Life Discoveries (QLD) in partnership with Human Nature, their collaboration is dedicated to empowering people with different types of disabilities, people who in the past times were left behind to waste away are now thankfully given the type of support that can help them live full and productive lives. 

Thanks to this initiative of QLD, the goal of achieving maximum level of sustainable independence will give among those with disabilities the chance and the possibility to live full and productive lives.
Cute little crochet keychains

The need to work towards achieving our goals is universal, as setting goals and then working towards accomplishing them helps make life worthwhile. Goals can be related to work, athletic endeavours, learning a new skill, or finding a way to more effectively manage activities of everyday living. Unfortunately, you can’t achieve goals when barriers prevent you from getting in the door. Worse than that, certain barriers prevent people with disabilities from even setting goals in the first place. In my honest opinion, it’s everyone’s benefit to do everything possible to remove that barrier, because barriers destroy lives and prevent otherwise productive people from being able to be responsible contributing participants in society. 
Human Nature products

It’s not important for people with disabilities to be able to compete with other people as much as it’s important that they live life to the fullest with their disability. What matters most is that each individual, regardless of disability, is able to reach their maximum level of achievement and independence, given their specific circumstances. Part of being human is the need to test ourselves to see what we can do. Although there are certain limitations, they can still be creative, compete within the job market and earn a living. They do need the assistance of others in order to reach their maximum level of independence and achievement, given their physical or mental limitations. Those who live with an intellectual disability can also be assisted to reach their maximum level of achievement and independence. Therefore, they too can find meaning and purpose in life and develop loving relationships.

Adarna Books for children

QLD  came up with I CAN Program that aims to:
  • fill in the gap in service for their teens with special needs who fall between therapy and supported employment
  • provide practical and applicable job skills for real world employment
  • all students on the program are then offered a job after an assessment of readiness is made, the job is through ABLE store
  • teach students independence and a skill set that is unique to a person with disability in entering the workforce

Wooden phone cover and wooden watches from Funk Trunk

They thought offering a pre-vocational program isn't enough, so they’ve decided to come up with the ABLE STORE. Along with other social entrepreneurs, they are continuously looking for partners to become enablers—those willing to help them by doing a “consignment” type of arrangement. They are tapping social entrepreneurs particularly those that can support them in their advocacy.

Colorful Plush toys from Plush and Play

Up and coming top quality brands like Plush and Play, Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolates, MayOwn, Tree Hugger, Funk Trunk, Adarna House, as well as popular Human Nature brands such as: First Harvest, Pili and Pino and Uncle Frank’s Coco Nectar and Coco Cider are available at ABLE Store.

Recycled and nature friendly Tree Hugger pens and pencils

Homemade jams and preserved stuff

The ABLE Store also have products made by differently-abled teens who are making their own products as means of livelihood. Lorenzo’s Sanctuary by Enzo, a 14-year-old non verbal autism makes organic and gluten-free Guava Tarragon jams. You can also purchase Caryll’s Kitchen by Caryll, another 14-year-old non verbal autism who makes awesome pickled bittergourd and papayas as well as citronella candles. Lastly, you can also find amazing car wood carvings lovingly made by Franco Cagayat, a 23-year-old autism based in Paete, Laguna.

Caryll's Kitchen Gluten free cookies

Caryll's Kitchen's Pickled Bittergourd

Lorenzo's Sanctuary Guava Tarragon Jam

Wood carver Frnaco Cagayat with his wooden car creation.

The diffrently-abled teens ready to serve you at the ABLE Store

The things you can find a the ABLE Store will be perfect gifts and giveaways for the upcoming Christmas season. Come and check out the ABLE Store, I assure you it will be worth your trip. Not only will you be able to help and support the advocacy and empower our diffrently-abled brothers and sisters, but you'll also sustain the business because they will be able to hire more teens with special needs.

The ABLE Store is located at the Quality Life Discoveries Special People’s Hub
70 20th Avenue, Project 4, Quezon City
Telephone numbers: (+632) 912-7433
Mobile number: (+63922)8596221

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