As an NGO there is a lot we want to do and there is a lot we need to do. Our first goal is to secure independent living for young adults with disabilities with the supports they need. This is their right and we are making sure their voice is being heard.
Meanwhile, we are talking with a lot of families in Cyprus. Aside from the obvious need for independent living, almost every family is saying the same thing:
“I wish there was a place where my son could go to work and be part of society and part of a team. A coffee shop for example.”
“My daughter would love to work in a coffee shop and greet people every day.”
“My son, like any young man, would love to work somewhere fun. Somewhere where he is given a sense of purpose and belonging. He would do so well in a café.”
All across Europe there are cafés that offer work experience, training and social skills opportunities to young people with disabilities.
They provide the opportunity for them to gain valuable job skills while also giving them a profound sense of worth. They also create social integration and awareness. These cafes can be found in colleges, libraries, parks, and town centers.
Our mission at Voice for Autism is to empower young adults with disabilities and provide such opportunities to help them live fulfilling lives within their community. We also want to change the way people view, value and respect them.
We plan on setting up Voices café in a central location where young adults with disabilities can work alongside people without disabilities. Cafés are the perfect environments to bring people together.
Voices café will run like any other good café: great coffee, fun staff, delicious baked goods, and a unique vibe.
Social justice and equality is obviously our goal, but along with that is the need to raise awareness that champions disability employment and hiring inclusivity.
In looking at our own special needs community, music is a fundamental part of their lives and it will feature strongly at the café. Monday, for example, will be reggae morning for Christos; Tuesday will be The Beatles for Louis, Wednesday will be jazz for Savina, Thursday traditional Cypriot tunes for James. On Friday and Saturday nights we will open in the evenings and have an open mic night giving everyone the chance to sing or hum or dance to their favorite tunes thus filling another void: social events for people with disabilities.
This is who we are. We will celebrate and champion and encourage every young adult with disabilities to have a place in society. We will give them a voice while singing loudly to their own tune.
If you are interested in helping set up Voices Café, please contact us at voiceforautism.org