Rising above: Athas proves his disability is not a barrier


April 30, 2024

At the heart of Gotham Doughnuts, amidst the aroma of cinnamon and caramel and the symphony of clinking utensils, there’s a young man named Athas who is taking his first step to getting a job.

His journey to finding work began like any other teenager’s – filled with apprehension, excitement, and a hint of nervousness.

But Athas faces an additional challenge due to his disability. He isn’t always comfortable making eye-contact, he sometimes finds it hard to read social cues, or understand what’s expected in a conversation.

But at Gotham Doughnuts – where he is supported, given new challenges to overcome, and where his abilities are fostered – he is growing in confidence and independence every day.

“Witnessing Athas happily participate in his work placement each week means the world to us. He loves working at Gotham Doughnuts…and has already gained so many valuable workplace skills” says his mum Narelle.

“We have seen significant growth in his confidence, independence & communication – it’s such a wonderful experience for him.”

Athas is one of Uniting’s School Leaver Employment Supports program participants. The program supports Athas and his family on the journey to fulfilling his career and life goals. The program is designed for school leavers living with a disability and assists them to grow key skills such as working in groups, navigating public transport, understanding formal documents such as passport applications, learning how to form their own opinions and ideas, and building foundational workplace skills such as food handling and customer service. Many of these important skills can be overlooked, and assumptions about the capacity of young people living with a disability can hold them back.

For people like Athas, a fulfilling career, overseas travel, romantic relationships and other significant life events should be as achievable as they are for any other young person.

Inclusive workplaces like Gotham Doughnuts provide crucial work experience for the participants, and provide an integral starting point for those very first steps on the journey to increased confidence and independence. Young people like Athas can grow beyond the barriers that many people perceive, and prove that his future is bright.

Athas’ mum Narelle knows that the staff at Gotham Doughnuts are behind him all the way, “[The manager] George loves having him there. And his co-worker Alyssa has been very encouraging and supportive. We are extremely proud of Athas & so grateful to Gotham Doughnuts & Uniting SLES for this amazing opportunity”.

Find out more about School Leaver Employment Supports.

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