JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Research shows that people with intellectual developmental differences or IDDs bring hard work, diversity, and value to the workplace.
However, despite these positive reviews they still experience high unemployment.
Before COVID 90% of Floridians with IDDs did not have employment versus 84% nationally.
A local organization is working to highlight the positive contributions these people make in the workforce and community through a new event.
It’s called Shopability Saturday.
“Shopability Saturday is a city-wide celebration of Jacksonville’s inclusive businesses. We are inviting our entire community to come out and shop and support businesses that choose to see the abilities of people with autism, down syndrome, and other intellectual developmental differences and to celebrate their contributions in the workplace,” said Sarah Troup, Connectable director.
If you’ve ever driven down University Boulevard in Jacksonville - you may have seen this guy with the fly dance moves and energetic personality holding a Firehouse Subs Sign.
The man behind the sign is Richard Harvey.
Harvey, who has an intellectual developmental difference, has worked at Firehouse Subs for the past five years.
“Richard is just simply awesome. He brings so much value to our restaurant. His energy is outstanding. He smiles, he communicates well with the employees, and he’s such a valuable asset,” said Tameka Flowers, district manager at Firehouse Subs.
“I love working with my employees because they make me laugh, they always put a smile on my face. I love helping customers out when they can’t find it,” Harvey said.
Connectable is a local organization highlighting the work of Harvey and others with IDDs throughout the community.
This Saturday, the organization will host its first-ever Shopability Saturday to raise awareness of businesses throughout the River City that believe in inclusion of all differences.
There are more than 150 IDD-inclusive organizations throughout town.
To find these organizations, you can use this interactive map.
You can participate in Shopability Saturday by supporting one or more of these businesses either in person or online.
For Harvey, inclusion is more than just a word.
“Thank you for giving me the chance to work with them and I appreciate them. Don’t never give up. Always go with what you believe in, always chase your dreams, and don’t never stop trying,” Harvey said.
Dancing his way into a better future -- one that you can help make brighter by accepting all those who are different.