This is Nicholas...
Nicholas has a dream to be in the community workplace someday just like his big brothers and sister.
Sadly, Nicholas' future is one of being isolated with little chance of escaping the dreariness of a sheltered workshop
The Nicholas Project will provide the skills, opportunity, and the environment to enable Nicholas, and hundreds of others also, to live their dreams out.
The Nicholas Project provides a real business for Nicholas, and other intellectually disabled individuals. This business, and eventually businesses, will give these individuals real jobs in a real business and help them to learn life skills, feel true independence, and create lasting friendships within the community. Most programs for intellectually disabled people place them into isolation. The Nicholas Project includes them into society.
While most of us take our skills, knowledge, and jobs for granted, Nicholas dreams of just a fraction of the opportunities we are given in our daily life. With each dollar you fund to the The Nicholas Project, those dreams are one step closer to becoming a reality.
With the funds raised from generous individuals like you, The Nicholas Project will be able to purchase a small food truck/trailer, which costs around $17,000. This food truck will provide the much needed jobs for the intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals who take pride in their hard-work and service to the community. While the first food truck/trailer continues to raise money, The Nicholas Project will grow as well into more food trucks, pet services, used bookstores, theaters, etc. At The Nicholas Project we are not creating one business, but businesses for countless individuals in our community and others too.
Thank you for your time and we can't wait to see your smiling faces when you visit us at our first food truck/trailer in the near future.
To learn more about The Nicholas Project please read the article below, provided by The Nicholas Project's founder, Bruce Bussell:
The Nicholas Project - A Real Business for Intellectually Disabled Individuals
There are a great many programs out there for training people who are disabled, but one group of disabled people are often overlooked. The intellectually disabled are often placed into workshops where they sit around tables with dozens of others and shred paper with their hands or stuff envelopes. If they are lucky, they may be chosen to put together a simple product such as ceiling sprinklers designed for fire protection. It is rare that any of these programs place the disabled trainees side by side with non-disabled peers. Because of that, socialization among the trainees is very poor and often leads to conflict. Not quite the life anyone dreams of achieving.
The saddest thing is that these people are often trained in school vocational programs that are very good and give the students a feeling of belonging and worth. Losing their place in those programs when they graduate can have a sudden and awful affect on the individuals and is often followed by a marked increase in depression. Parents often talk of how their children had such a love of life until they graduated and entered some of these sheltered workshops. I have had parents tell me that the change in their children was so significant that they felt helpless in trying to help them. This program offers the help that many of these parents so badly need.
I have worked with intellectually disabled students for 31 years. I know they can do so much more than society thinks they can. I have seen it first hand with many students and now with my wonderful son Nicholas. Intellectually disabled individuals can hold productive and meaningful jobs when given proper training. Sure, some of these jobs are jobs the average non-disabled person would probably scoff at, such as stocking shelves, bussing tables, etc. but that is much more challenging and satisfying to them than simply shredding paper. The great thing about getting these people in jobs like I am describing is that intellectually disabled individuals will almost always love their jobs and take great pride in them. They never complain about the job being boring, too hard, or really anything else that would be negative. You give an intellectually disabled person a job like these, train them right and you will have an employee for years. Turnover will not be an issue in a position that, in the past, has exceedingly high turnover among non-disabled employees. The best part is that these people will no longer be isolated, but will instead be a valued member of the workforce.
My son, Nicholas, has Down Syndrome and Autism. He is a good worker but will always need supports to work and be a productive member of society. Most individuals with disabilities like Nic's end up, after graduation from high school, working in those shelters I described earlier. They sit around all day and shred paper by hand, stuff envelopes, and receive little to no interaction with others. It is no wonder that most of them are so lifeless when you visit these workshops. It hurts me deeply to see the students I had, who were full of life and seemed to have such a carefree life, become so detached from life and society when they enter these workshops after graduating from high school.
Nic is 15 years old and will be entering the school's vocational training program soon. It is important to him that he has a real job, a job that this project would create, during his vocational training program so that he can experience real work environments instead of sitting at a table tearing paper. That is why we, at The Nicholas Project, want to have the flagship part of the project up and running by Summer 2013. It can be used with more students, or graduates, who need training too. This real world training program, which will give the people working in it real wages, can provide individual skills to each trainee that can help level out the playing field for them. It is also a great way to foster inclusion as non-disabled workers will need to work in the business so that the disabled people can better learn acceptable work skills.
We believe that people with intellectual disabilities can work in a small business such as a shaved ice business. Nic loves to keep things organized and loves to clean also. These are jobs that he would be thrilled to have and would take great pride in. Many other cognitively disabled people would do well in this job too and will be given the same chance Nic gets.
We are hoping to gain the funding for one shaved ice trailer and entire business set-up such as the one from Frigid Frog, here in Texas. After getting this one trailer up and running, I believe that the business will profit enough to purchase a second unit so that more disabled individuals will be able to enter the program and receive training and wages.
Although the first business in this project will be a shaved ice business, other businesses created with profits could be a food truck, a small hamburger joint, a janitorial service, a pet service or kennel, etc. The important aspect is that cognitively disabled individuals that would normally be "warehoused" into shelters will be trained for real world jobs. They can stay in the business as long as it takes for them to find a job elsewhere. They may even end up in the business they trained in permanently.
After succeeding here in Lubbock, I hope to create a non-profit company helping people nationwide follow this model. I will create a book, or manual, describing exactly how to do what we did and, with the profits created as well as sponsorship from people who will see just how amazing this project is, we will be able to provide seed money for those people to start a business too. I know this will work. It could help thousands of people but I need the funding for only the first trailer and business.
Less than $20,000 can create a project that can help thousands and generate millions of dollars without government funding. All we need is the seed money to get this project started. Once I prove that these individuals can be given lives that are meaningful, the profits and the private sponsorships will provide the funding for so many others.
What We Need and Why
As you can see in the link below, the trailer , shaved ice machine, and the flavor package costs $16,790. After the fees, the total funded amount is a little less than what is needed, but I will come up with that amount locally.
We hope to get this trailer up and running by Spring 2013 and save the profits from all of our hard-work and buy a second trailer and a third and so on. Shaved Ice businesses are very profitable as the entire cost of making a sno-cone is about 35 or 40 cents and sell for up to $3 or $4. Many weekend events such as parades or fairs can create a huge profit trail while putting our hard-working individuals to work, which will enable pride and joy in their work. I know my son will thrive.
I have been a special education teacher for 31 years and have professionally worked with disabled individuals long before Nicholas entered my life. Having him changed my life for the better. I see how talented he is but it is not easy for others to see these special abilities, how much joy he receives from working and from pleasing others when he does good work. I have job-coached disabled students and know that the opportunities are not readily available in our communities. This project will start out small and grow into a huge national program that can be copied in every community across the country.
This small trailer can create hundreds of copy-cat businesses for other individuals who have disabilities and who can work productively when given the opportunity instead of being pushed aside and forgotten.
Many parents of a child like mine will tell you that they dread the day their child graduates from high school because the options for a real job are extremely slim. This project can grow to being something that puts hope out there for others.
A Bonus for You
There are a couple of perks for you when you graciously fund The Nicholas Project. The perks are listed on the right side of this page. Talented Creative Design Team Leader Brandon Bussell has created an awesome and very recognizable shirt for all those people who choose that perk. I will also send you a newsletter keeping you abreast of how this whole project grows so that you can see what a huge difference you helped make.
Here is a link to The Nicholas Projects's Blog. You can read more about how your funding of this one business will impact thousands of others.