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Disability Pride Month: PawsAbilities eyes possibilities for present, future

Olathe-based company sets sights on future
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 08:32:00-04

OLATHE, KS. — Disability Pride Month ends July 31, but that doesn't mean those who work with the disabled community stop growing their services. PawsAbilities in Olathe is looking to expand.

The dog treat bakery is busy, with students involved in every step of the process - rolling, flipping, cutting, and baking the dough, followed by frosting and bagging those treats.

That’s not all they make though - they sew and produce dog bandanas and dog toys, creating fun items for the Kansas City metro’s canine friends.

“The community that loves their pets are really compassionate people and so that compassion transfers to our people and so it's just been a win win on both sides,” Debbie Horn of Inclusion Connections, which oversees PawsAbilities said.

The company wants to give those in the disability community a chance to learn and grow.

“Gaining skills and stuff, because I work at Hyvee, so I’m trying to gain skills from here and there,” Avery Newcomer, who also works at PawsAbilities, said.

Closing that employment gap is a top priority.

“It is still a challenge to find jobs for individuals with disabilities in particular, full time jobs so we really focus right now on part time jobs and most of our students are working multiple part time jobs to earn enough money so they can become more independent,” Horn said.

While they bake and sew at PawsAbilities, they dream about future opportunity.

“Dying to be a pre-school teacher, part time and I’m super excited, I might get a job hopefully by this, or next week,” Violet Holman, who has been working at PawsAbilities, said.

They dream of new jobs and bigger possibilities.

“We're going to start a capital campaign in October, to create a campus here in Kansas City, where students can live so we're looking at a three to four story building, with 75 to 100 students,” Horn said.

It's an ambitious goal, which Horn hopes will serve PawsAbilities’ workers and their peers.

"We need to recognize that people with disabilities want to be independent and we have to provide places that they can do that and live out that that desire,” Horn said.