Warm Your Heart With the Tale of Ohio’s Special Neat Treats
We need more stories like this. Things that are heartwarming and happy.
Special Neat Treats is a successful ice cream truck out of Ohio. It was purchased last year by retired science teacher and father of 10, Joel Wegener.
What makes this ice cream truck special/heartwarming?
As you can imagine, being retired doesn't mean the bills stop coming or that people suddenly stop relying on you. I'm not sure how old Joel's kids are but, I can assume that a passive income was still needed. That was part of the motivation behind purchasing an old ice cream truck that needed a few repairs.
The other part of the motivation was a desire to give back to the community while simultaneously providing a career opportunity for two of his children, Josh and Mary Kate, who were both born with Down syndrome.
A statistic shared by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, otherwise known as NCHPAD, states that about 20.3 percent of people with disabilities were a part of the current workforce in America. However, that statistic does group every person with a disability into one category. A separate survey was conducted of adults with Down syndrome and their parents and, based on the answers received, it was concluded that about 57% were working paid jobs. Read more here.
While 57% isn't a terrible number, it still sheds light on the fact that career opportunities for those with Down syndrome might still be limited.
Through the ice cream truck, named Special Neat Treats (a play on words suggested by Josh and Mary's mother who is not named), Josh and Mary Kate have not only been able to earn a living but grow their social skills in a safe environment, according to upworthy.com.
And their community in Loveland, Ohio has embraced and supported them wholeheartedly:
They even landed on local and national news:
Now, over a year after initially starting this business, Joel has stated that the success and publicity were unexpected but that,
we hope that we can inspire other families with special needs kids to find new and inventive ways to support their children.
Should their success continue in the future, which I sincerely hope it does, they hope to expand their business to provide even more opportunities for children with special needs. To follow along with their journey, you can find them on Facebook.