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MUM HOPES NEW FILM WILL CHANGE ‘OUTDATED VIEWS’


T


he mother of identical twin boys who both have Down’s syndrome, says she hopes


having them star in a national film about employment will change people’s outdated attitudes. Elaine Scougal’s six-year-old boys,


Ollie and Cameron, are filmed ‘testing out’ jobs at the fire service, a café, hairdressers and supermarket. The film promotes the message that children with Down’s syndrome should grow up expecting to be employed and spoken to about what they might like to do from an early age by parents, teachers and others. “I hope that the film helps


employers to think about people with Down’s syndrome as potential employees, people with hopes, dreams and ability. I also hope that it encourages parents to talk about employment opportunities with their children so that they have a presumption of seeking employment when the time comes.” said Elaine from Dundee. The video has been made by the


Down’s Syndrome Association for their employment programme WorkFit. The scheme brings together employers and jobseekers who have Down’s syndrome and is a tailored service dedicated to training employers about the learning profile of people who have Down’s syndrome so that they can be supported in the workplace. Statistics show that nationally, just


5.9% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment in England, which is a downward trend year-on-year. Elaine said “I think there a lot of


outdated perceptions out there about Down's syndrome, and learning disabilities in general are a barrier to people getting jobs. There's an assumption by many that people with Down’s syndrome don't have the competence or ability to work and that a voluntary role is more suitable if


anything. It's about creating the ethos of


seeing each employee as an individual, not as a condition or disability, and evaluating how their individual needs can be met within any employment context. That takes an open mind, but I believe, slowly, more minds are opening to employing people with disabilities and tailoring training to meet needs.” Ollie and Cameron have become


internet sensations since Elaine set up a Facebook page when they were just weeks old. It now has more than 200,000 followers who enjoy watching videos of the boys and reading about their latest updates. Elaine explains why she set up the


page. “After a few weeks of hearing some stereotyped views and pitying reactions to Cam and Ollie's diagnosis after birth, we decided we wanted to spread the word that our children were children, not defined by their chromosome counts. We set up the Facebook page and it took off so quickly, I think due to identical twins with Down’s syndrome being quite rare, occurring at a rate of about one or two in a million births. Through the page, we have


documented their journey as they've grown from three weeks old to nearly seven years old now through videos, photographs and stories. We get messages regularly stating that the page has opened their eyes about Down’s syndrome in terms of rebutting stereotypes they might have held. Some people also comment that they were very aware that the boys had Down’s syndrome when they first started following but now, they've forgotten. That's a big thing - that the diagnosis just fades into the background and people just see them for who they are, Ollie and Cam. That's what we hoped for.” WorkFit hopes that the new film


will encourage more businesses to consider signing up to the programme.


To find out more about WorkFit go to www.dsworkfit.org.uk www.downs-syndrome.org.uk


26 Ability Needs Magazine


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