Tag Archives: Cerebral Palsy

Employing Adults with Special Needs: ReAwarding Work

Trophy Master 1

Last week I wrote about advocating for our children with special needs.  If you missed the post, you can read it here. Today I want to share an inspiring story of two parents who are passionate about advocating for employment for adults with special needs.

Two years before their son Mark graduated from high school, Pete and Sharon Meaden had a conversation about his future.  Mark has a great aptitude for computers, but has deficits in other abilities due to cerebral palsy that made it hard to find a job.

“Bagging groceries and stocking shelves are fine jobs, but many of the kids coming through modified educational training have other interests and abilities. Some of the positions that are traditionally thought of for kids like Mark, he just can’t do physically.  At times there are behavioral challenges that require supervision. He worked so hard to acquire technical skills in school. We didn’t want him to lose those by graduating to the couch and playing video games all day.”

Pete and Sharon set about finding alternatives suiting their son’s gifts which led them to start their own business. Revived Glory Awards refurbishes old trophies and creates new ones for a variety of sports events and more.

“I knew so many friends with shelves full of old soccer trophies, basketball, baseball, you name it.  Kids work hard for those treasures and no one wants to throw them away, but eventually they end up just taking up space and collecting dust.  I got to wondering if I could start a business recycling old trophies and creating new ones.”

A bit of market research and emails to a network of friends yielded a basci business plan and plenty of stock to get started. Mark became the first trophy master employed by Revived Glory Awards, disassembling, sorting, and creating an inventory list.  Sharon set about getting orders for new trophies, which Mark assembled, and a new business was born.

Housed in the home garage, Revived Glory Awards now employs six trophy masters, ages 20-50, and a variety of volunteers to assist. “Each trophy master has particular gifts to share. Some are good at assembly, others at engraving. The real gift comes in the sense of community. They care about each other and have a true team spirit. For some, their time at Revived Glory is their main social outlet of the week.” Some trophy masters need one on one supervision and others are more independent. Finding volunteers has never been a problem. “Our volunteers love their time with our trophy masters, even saying it is the highlight of their week and a time when they know they are doing something that truly makes a difference.”

Trophy Master 3

Trophy Masters Celebrate “Bring-your-Sibling-to-Work” Day

Business is booming! In addition to trophies, they create beautiful engraved cutting boards and other products as well. To learn more about Revived Glory Awards click here. The Meadens are looking to expand from their garage into retail space, but that isn’t the end of their vision. “It would be great to become a non-profit and be able to create a residential program so there could be ongoing community. Some trophy masters would still be part of a day program, but others could live on site and have care and companionship, a place to belong.”

I asked Sharon what is one piece of advice she has to offer to parents of adult children who are at risk of falling through the employment crack after graduation. “Our young adults have so much potential. Those who know them best know their gifts. Find what they do best and think outside the box for how they can use their skills. Help them find what suits them or create it yourself. It really wasn’t that hard to do.”

Glorious God, Thank you for blessing Pete and Sharon with the gift of inspiration and vision for creating a place of community and employment for trophy masters.  Bless them in thier growing opportunity to reach out to yet more young adults who are lookng for a job and place to belong. For parents feeling anxious about the future beyond high school, calm their fears and create a fresh vision for possibilites. Open pathways of connections so that the gifts of all of your children are shared in meaningful ways. Amen

Rev Doc Lorna

Review: No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches by Jeff Davidson

No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Jeff Davidson, founder of Rising Above Ministries, authored a must read book for fathers of special needs children.  No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches: A Father, A Son with Special Needs, and Their Journey with God chronicles his life as a special needs parent.  Jeff presents a poignant and transparent look into his thoughts and feelings, offering the reader a chance to connect with the roller coaster of emotions and spiritual challenges that often accompany special needs parenting.  As the father of a child with severe physical challenges as well as autism, Jeff’s journey resonates across a variety special needs life circumstances. Each chapter is grounded in his theological understanding of God’s grace and love.

Jeff is passionate about filling the gap of support for special needs dads.  He discusses in an opening chapter the need to reach out and encourage dads in particular due to a trend that he calls “vacant dads.” Having walked the journey as a special needs father, Jeff offers unique insights about how to avoid the pitfalls that make it so tempting to “check out.” His is a positive and encouraging message that in no way sugar-coats the reality of hard days.  His voice of wisdom and experience guide the way on a journey toward acceptance, revealing moments that transcend real time when God steps into everyday life with Jeff and his son.

Jeff has created the No More Vacant Dads Initiative, a positive ministry with a mission to preserve, encourage and equip special needs dads. Still in the start-up phase, there is a long-term vision for coaching and mentoring.  You can learn more about Jeff’s ministry through GoodnightSuperman.com.

About the Author: Jeff Davidson is the founder and President/CEO of Rising Above Ministries, a national special needs ministry serving special needs families. A pastor, speaker, and author, Jeff says he was chosen to be the dad of a son with special needs, and called by God to minister to those in the special needs community. Rising Above was birthed by Jeff, and his wife Becky, based upon their own experiences raising their son with profound special needs.   In addition to his own blog, GoodnightSuperman.com, Jeff also is a contributing author to the blog Not Alone SpecialNeedsParenting.net and he writes atComfortinTheMidstofChaos.com. In addition, Jeff is a team member and special-needs writer at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com. He also serves on the advisory team and blogs at Disability Matters WhyDisabilityMatters.org.