27 minutes | Feb 11, 2020

Matthew Schwab Speaks about Down Syndrome

Matthew Schwab Speaks.

Matthew delivered a Ted Talk this past year, and if you're NOT driving your car, I suggest you watch it right now. It's fantastic.

Matthew recaps for our audience some of the key points to why he is an advocate for people with down syndrome finding meaningful employment.

85% of individuals with an intellectual developmental disability are unemployed, but the majority of the 15% that are employed only have menial jobs. They are often put into behind scenes work instead of capitalizing on finding ways to employ individuals with disabilities into roles that best suit their capabilities.

We spoke about his employment at Chick fil A and the training process.

There was a quote that Matthew put up in his TedTalk, from his manager at Chick-fil-A:

"I think it's safe to say that Matthew has a fan club that loves to see him at our restaurant, and when Matthew smiles at someone, it can't help but brighten their day. It's important for all of our team, especially our youth, to learn how to embrace working with people of all abilities and unique qualities."

Matthew tells us about working at 321 Coffee. 321 Coffee is a nonprofit coffee shop that is staffed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Matthew was volunteering for years before he became one of the 21 paid baristas, but he still volunteers on their advisory council.

Matthew is also involved at GiGi's Playhouse, which is a nonprofit down-syndrome teen center. At GiGi’s Playhouse, all ages are welcome, from pre-natal to adults. The positive and uplifting environment of GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh empowers those with Down syndrome and their families to reach their highest potential. GiGi’s Playhouse’s custom, research-based curriculum works towards advancing literacy, math skills, gross and fine motor skills, improving low muscle tone, building self-esteem, preparing for the workforce and more while fostering acceptance, awareness and networking resources for parents, siblings and the community. 

Matthew has also has done some internships with local government as well as the NC state legislature. Working on bills that he felt would help employers hire more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Matthew hopes to continue in politics and one day have a seat in government.

Why did he choose public speaking? It was his passion. 
We asked Matthew, what do you think are the most common misperceptions people have about down syndrome? 

  • The most common misperception is that they could never lead a productive life.
  • They won't be able to do many of the simple things others take for granted.
  • That they won't get a job.

But the truth is, people with this please can do all that this stuff, but it just takes them longer. Matthew likes to say,  "our mentality is different. Our physicality is different, but we love it. It's just one part of who we are. Do not let that define who we are we trying to. We live our life just like everyone else is living their life."

Our guest host, Brandon Woolley from the Fire Within Nutrition and Fitness podcast talked with Matthew about his physical therapy and routines to help keep him healthy.

You can book Matthew to speak or follow him on Instagram and Facebook and get yourself some cool gear to help bring awareness to his mission.

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