New program in Jacksonville helping people with Down syndrome find jobs

New program in Jacksonville helping people with Down syndrome find jobs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bryce Montgomery knows the importance of hard work and focus. Like many 22-year-olds, he's trying to find a job that's a good fit for him.

His mom says that can be a challenge.

"Unfortunately for persons with differing abilities (employers) still look at it as a disability," Sharon Montgomery said. "Oftentimes their first thought is, ‘Can that person help themselves enough to stay employed with me, or will this not work? Will it be a problem?'"

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The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville is working to change that. Bryce is one of the first five people to go through their new career solutions training academy.

The four-month course for people ages 18 and up focuses on four industries – retail, grocery, office work and food service.

They have classes during the week and each Thursday, they go to a business and put their skills to work.

"This is going to give him the opportunity to see of the tracks they offer, which is the best one for him," Sharon Montgomery said.

The program is also showing companies people with different abilities can excel at a variety of jobs. Several local businesses have already shown interest in hiring Bryce and his classmates.

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Bryce tells Action News Jax he already knows where he wants to work.

"First I'm going to apply for Publix then I hope I can apply for Burlington," he said.

His mom said the program is enriching the lives of Bryce and other people with Down syndrome, but also teaching others about their special abilities.

"The more people see what we can do, and what they can do, the better their lives will be," she said. "Those that work there benefit from knowing our children and our children benefit from being someone out in the community, being a success, all the same things you want for your typical child.

You can help this program grow. If you know of a business with a spot for someone with special abilities, call the association.