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#NiceWork! Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop in Wilmington, N.C. has some of the most special baristas, greeters, and cashiers in the business they all have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Currently a CNN Heroes nominee, Bitty & Beaus shows us all that through inclusion and acceptance, everyone will succeed.

Inspired by her own life, Amy Wright, affectionately known as Ms. Amy, opened Bitty & Beau’s with her husband in 2016. The couple has four children; the two youngest, Bitty and Beau, have down syndrome. Though the original name of the shop was was Beau’s Coffee, it was later renamed Bitty & Beau’s Coffee as a birthday wish of Beau’s to have his sister’s name light up just like his.

Wright wanted to create an opportunity for those in her community to show the value and potential of individuals with IDD.  Currently, only about 30 percent of those with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are employed.  “The takeaway is maybe we’ve changed one heart or one mind…maybe they’re going to go back and try to figure out a way,” Wright said (Tegan).

The coffee shop does great business. Still, the employees and their families may be their biggest fans. In their CNN Heroes interview, employee Matt explains how he’s grown from the experience. “It’s helped me a lot with my confidence…it’s helped me become a lot more sociable.” As Jessie, fellow employee explains, “We’re showing the world that we can have a job, we can rule the world, we’re just like everyone else!”

To learn more about Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities you can visit the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. This program was established to support researchers to have a goal of advancing their understanding topics concerning IDD. The Arc is another organization that is a leading advocate for individuals with IDD and their families. They provide support and services to those in need.

Photos and Vimeo video are from Tegan Johnston. Her inspiring work showcases that “each person is a living story that helps connect and transform this beautifully diverse world.”

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