CIRCLEVILLE— Scioto Downs has partnered with the Pickaway County Board of Developmental Disabilities to help place a handful individuals with disabilities in jobs at the racino.Patrick Kilbane, transition services specialist for the PCBDD, said five local people have been employed through the program for about six weeks in existing jobs at the racino, and no new positions were created.
“The five that have been working there have been doing well,” Kilbane said. “Each of the five have different skills and different abilities, and we were able to match their preferences, interests, needs and abilities with jobs that were available there.”
Kilbane said the jobs include working the buffet, working in the kitchen, and serving as a bar back.
“They are five of 500 that we are trying to give support and that extra support through job coaching that the Pickaway County Board of DD could give,” Kilbane said.
Employment First, a two-year-old governor initiative, operates under the belief that people with disabilities can and should be an active part of a community and employment should be their first option.
“All individuals, no matter their abilities, should be able to work if they prefer that,” he said. “That is the whole change of perspective because historically we’ve sent individuals to segregated settings to work in sheltered environments to participate in day habilitation programs. This program helps us to network with the community to find jobs and work with schools to help them provide the skills they need for when they exit school, they can go straight into a job or we can give them what they need to do that.”
Kilbane said the program is far from being a hand-out.
“The heart at Employment First is that every individual can work, and as a county board we’re working to support that,” he said. “We’re not asking for special positions or above and beyond what an employer would do for their employee. Scioto Downs gave us a mini-job fair for 10 individuals, and from that pool they found people they felt were an excellent fit for their jobs.”
Kilbane said the opportunity to work is important because the people placed in jobs feel more a part of the community.
“Any time you meet someone, you ask them what their name is and in small talk you ask them what they do,” Kilbane said. “For our individuals historically that has been a tough question. Through work, it allows them to say, ‘Hi, my name is John, and I work at Scioto Downs.’”
In addition to providing purpose for those individuals, he said, it helps them become a tax-paying member of society, just like everyone else.
“It allows sort of full access to be a citizen and to have the same treatment that you would have for others,” he said.
Kilbane said having jobs also allows individuals with disabilities gain some new independence.
“It allows them to not only work but you develop additional relationships,” he said. “They’re developing additional co-worker relationships, and they’re going places they haven’t been before and gaining a new independence. It’s definitely a game-changer.”