In a world where opportunities are often weighed against preconceived limitations, the title “You Never Know What People Can Do Until They’re Given a Chance” serves as a powerful reminder of the untapped potential residing in every individual. This sentiment resonates deeply, especially for adults with disabilities who frequently find themselves sidelined by societal biases.

You Never Know What People Can Do Until They’re Given a Chance By Jeanne Eglinton

Think back to a time when you were asked to do something that made you think, “Wow, I don’t think I can do that!” You probably wondered why on earth someone would trust you with such a daunting task. But after some hard work and belief from others, you did it! That empowering sense of achievement and growth is something we all deserve to experience.

The Overlooked Talent

Breaking Down Employment Barriers for Adults with Disabilities

For many adults with disabilities, these opportunities rarely occur. Too often, businesses overlook talented candidates with disabilities, focusing exclusively on their limitations versus their strengths. And this mindset hurts everyone. Adults with disabilities make up 12.9% of Minnesota’s population but only 5.8% of the employed population. There are still more than 100,000 Minnesotans with disabilities who are ready to work but have not been given a fair shot.

Unified Work Logo

Surprising Abilities

In my 35-year career advocating for individuals with disabilities in the workplace, I’ve learned one great truth: You never know what people can do until they’re given a chance. And often, they surprise you! Even now, as the head of MDI’s Unified Work program, I’m continuously inspired by the transformation that happens when we provide individuals with the opportunity to demonstrate their full abilities, free from assumed limits and expectations.

A Call to Action for Inclusive Opportunities and Growth

Collective Bias

Confronting our collective bias is fitting as we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. At MDI, this spirit of awareness and advocacy is a continuous commitment. As a Minnesota social enterprise manufacturer, we’re driven by our mission to create inclusive opportunities for success for all our employees – people with and without disabilities alike.

Nurturing Growth and Opportunity

One of the ways we achieve this is through our inclusive career success programs, Unified Work and Hired Hands. Both were created to support people with disabilities in their journey to gain meaningful work at livable wages. Our programs’ goal has always been to help participants find success and growth beyond MDI – if this is what they want. We help program participants develop skills, seek job opportunities, build their resume and more.

Partnering with Businesses for Real Change

We also work with businesses to evaluate how they can foster inclusive environments at their organization. Real change happens when businesses look past their own limited ideas of what makes a valuable employee, focusing instead on what an individual can bring to the table and how they can provide opportunities to grow. Businesses can foster true growth and drive innovation by opening their eyes to overlooked sectors of our workforce.

Unified Work Course Attendees given a chance to further their growth.

A Strategic Move towards Inclusivity in the Community

At MDI, we encourage all businesses to be mindful of the opportunities they offer, especially those extended to people with disabilities. It is not just an act of social responsibility but a strategic move towards a better and more compassionate community. Rather than focusing on what someone cannot do, let us create opportunities for people to amaze us with what they can do.