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Progressive Choices helps those with special needs learn job skills

Everyone needs a job in order to provide for themselves and their families, including those with disabilities.

Progressive Choices, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that teaches job skills to adults with specials needs, and works with various businesses and organizations to land jobs for their clients.

According to Progressive Choices, about three percent of the population in Southern Nevada is intellectually-challenged. The disabilities those adults have include Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and more.

Although there is a stigma attached to those with special needs and their ability to work, Roman Gerard of Progressive Choices said that once employers see how they can carry out simple tasks, that changes.

“There’s always going to be some sort of hesitancy from businesses when they hear someone has a disability,” Gerard said. ”They assume that it’s going to be tough for them to catch up, handle the workload. That they’re not going to be independent enough.

“Progressive Choices helps clients obtain jobs that go with their personality and skill set, in order to ensure success for both the client and the employer. When an employer sees the kind of workhorses our clients are, they see that their thoughts were wrong.”

Progressive caters to their clients and seeks out jobs that they can thrive in, depending on what their disability is.

“If someone is wheelchair-bound we can get them a job typing up memos, or as a greeter at a store,” he said. “Or if they have autism or bipolar and are a little bit socially shy, they can work in the community and we put them in group situations so they will succeed, by having the support of people like them.

“That’s the benefit Progressive offers. We’re not going to toss a client into a job that they have no experience in. Progressive offers full job coaching. So a client has the tools they need to succeed before they step through the door the first day.”

In addition to jobs outside of Progressive Choices, their clients also sort packs of playing cards for casinos and assemble magnets for various companies as well.

Gerard, who oversees Progressive Choices in Pahrump and Las Vegas, said that dealing with businesses in town is more intimate as opposed to those over the hump.

“Pahrump is just more personal,” he said. “They are more community and personable-based than Las Vegas is.”

With Progressive Choices being the only organization in town that focuses on special-needs adults and jobs, Gerard explained they like to focus on clients in town as much as they can.

“We try to give our clients as much attention as possible, being we’re the only business in town that does this,” he said. “We offer that one-on-one focus.”

In addition to finding persons with special needs help, Progressive Choices also takes their clients on group outings to go bowling, swimming and other activities.

For more information on Progressive Choices, Inc., including how to utilize their service, log on to www.progressivechoices.org.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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