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Teen Perspective: Don't Underestimate People With Disabilities

Read this story in the New York Jewish Week.

By Jake Borenstein

Editor's Note: As we recognize the 10 companies selected for the Ruderman "Best in Business' award, we are delighted to bring New Normal readers a teen perspective on employment and disability.

Actress Nikki Reed says, "What is important is to treat everyone like an individual and learning not to generalize disabilities.” She experiences autism first hand because her brother has autism. She strongly supports autism awareness and helping people understand that people with disabilities should be able to have a productive place in society.

Young adults with disabilities need jobs in today's workforce.

These kids are much smarter than we credit them for. Different organizations have already been successful incorporating the idea of inclusion, and it would save the government money on Supplemental Security Income Benefits, OR SSI, government funded monthly payments to help out families with disabled family members.

13 percent of children in the US are diagnosed with some sort of disability that qualifies them for SSI. With about 74 million kids in the US, that leaves around 9.5 million with disabilities. If these children and young adults were allowed to have jobs, this could eliminate over 9 million dollars of money spent a month to compensate for these families. When these kids have jobs, they will be paid a salary and then earn the money while producing something for the general public's use.

Many kids with disabilities are underestimated. I have a cousin with autism and whenever I visit him I love to see what new games and activities he learns. He has an Ipad and it amazes me all the games he can excel at. My aunt, his mom, created a cookbook full of gluten-free foods, which is what he eats, that he can help her make. I love seeing him do cooking techniques that not even I can do, like cracking eggs with one hand. He never fails to impress me.

There is a company called Cameron’s Chocolate and Coffee which is a non-profit foundation in Fairfax, VA, near my home, that hires young adults with disabilities working there. They excel at jobs that reinforce their skill sets. Cameron’s chocolate is a company that shows it is possible to have successful business with young adults with disabilities.

Treating everyone equally in the workforce would give people the opportunity to show their full potentials.

Jake Borenstein just finished his sophomore year at South County High School, where he plays on the football team and is active in the theater program. In his free time, Jake participates in BBYO and volunteers for Eddie's Club, a social program for children and teens with special needs. His aunt Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer edits "The New Normal" and is excited to share Jake's perspective!

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