By Jessica Toster, WA
I am Jessie Toster and I have a job as an Office Assistant at Developmental Disability WA.
I have worked in this job for over 6 and a half years now.
I shred unwanted documents, I take out the recycling, I check the parking area for cars that have parked in the Accessible bays but are not displaying their ACROD card. I make teas and coffees, wash dishes, assist with preparing information packs and setting up and cleaning up the meeting rooms, and preparation for the AGMs. I also make birthday cards for the team on the computer.
I really enjoy a member of the DDWA team, and I most like doing the dishes.
I used to answer the phone, but this was too difficult for me because of my hearing aids.
I needed to learn how to use the shredder, and the computer system.
It is really important for people with Down Syndrome to have a job that they choose, so that they can get paid, and have their independent life, like everyone else.
Inclusion is important so that people can live a healthy and active life, with friends and family, just like everyone else.
I like being part of a team because we all help each other and come to be friends. For example, Theresa and I take turns in buying each other coffee in the mornings. Sometimes we celebrate birthdays as a team.
My advice is to try anything. Get your friends and family to check out with their networks for any opportunities going. You might need to do volunteer work for a while, I volunteered in a pet shop for a year, with Meals and Wheels and with Books on Wheels, and in the kitchen at a day centre for elderly people. Or you might have to do a few work trials to see whether you can do the work and whether people feel that they can employ you. Another thing might be to go to TAFE to build your skills.
I think the most important thing an employer needs to know about employing someone with Down syndrome is that it is not just about Down syndrome, it is about who you are as a person and what you can do for the employer.
Everyone needs family and friends who love them and are interested in them and include them in different activities and celebrations.
I feel like I am liked, and appreciated, and that people care about me when they include me. It makes me feel good about myself, like I am a good person and fun to be with.