Program promotes self-respect for the intellectually disabled

Updated 2017-11-20 11:32:12 China Daily
Liu Shunli, 24, who has Down syndrome, mops the floor at a branch of the Auspicious Phoenix Bakery in Beijing.

Liu Shunli, 24, who has Down syndrome, mops the floor at a branch of the Auspicious Phoenix Bakery in Beijing.

The government and NGOs are working together to ensure that people can obtain work and improve their lives.

In some developed countries, people with intellectual disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome are enrolled in supported employment programs that offer them the opportunity to work. Now China is catching up.

Liu Shunli could be mistaken for a regular store assistant were it not for his clumsy movements and the meticulousness way he performs his tasks, such as attaching price tags to containers, folding cake boxes and mopping the floor at a branch of the Auspicious Phoenix Bakery in Beijing's Shijingshan district.

The 24-year-old, who has Down syndrome, has been working at the bakery six days per week from 8 am till 5 pm for more than seven years. He earns about 2,000 yuan (0) a month, the same as his able-bodied colleagues.

"I like working here. I can earn my own money, and I also have friends here," he said.

Personnel manager Lu Chang said the bakery has been working with organizations that provide vocational training and rehabilitation services for the intellectually disabled since 2010.

Auspicious Phoenix employs more than 20 intellectually disabled people in the capital, working alongside able-bodied members of staff. "We have about 280 branches across Beijing, which is a huge advantage because it allows us to employ people in the bakeries nearest their homes," Lu said.

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