June 2015 - Welcome to the GCEPD
Top of the Mountain - A story written by Ken Ballard, a GCEPD member, about his daughter Sophie.
“Top of the Mountain, Daddy” “Top of the Mountain” is a phrase heard often around my house. Ever since her first ski outing 3 seasons ago with our friends at Vermont Adaptive, my daughter Sophie recalls often and with pride one of her favorite experiences outside of her structured and supported lifestyle. Downhill skiing can be a daunting and risky activity even for the fittest among us yet as I watched Sophie engage in each step of suiting up during one especially cold morning, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the look of pride, outward show of enthusiasm, and fearlessness she had for the activity she was about to engage in. Sophie lives with significant intellectual disabilities and global development delays that require her to rely on others for the most basic living skills yet as I watched her prepare to hop on the chairlift, all I saw was my little girl participating in an activity she loves. Surrounded on all sides by wonderful volunteers, Sophie makes run after run down the mountain with not even a moment passing at the bottom when we here “top of the mountain” each time. How could a father be more proud of his little girl? I find it easy to draw a parallel from this to what it takes for most people - not just one living with a disability - to be successful and find fulfillment in a vocation best suited to their strengths and interests. My recruiting and staffing company has advocated supportive employment for hundreds of people over the past 25 years and we have many stories of achievement that resulted from this non-traditional approach. In fact, this “non-traditional” approach has become very much the norm and only a few short years ago, our friends at Vocational Rehabilitation sought to replicate - and perfect - the idea of supportive employment. I’m sure by now most progressive businesses in Vermont have heard of Creative Workforce Solutions and their team of caring, supportive employment consultants. When someone is properly supported, like with Vermont Adaptive Sports or Creative Workforce Solutions or Spherion Staffing, the sky is the limit! Or in this case it could be a meaningful career, an independent lifestyle, or simply another trip to the “Top of the Mountain”. Ken Ballard is owner of Spherion Staffing Services in South Burlington, serves on the Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, Special Olympics Vermont, and the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington.