Danny Coleman, Antwan Gunn, and Tonisha Wheelright in front of the black rhino habitat on their first day of work at the Zoo.

CINCINNATI, OH (August 29, 2017) – Yesterday marked the first day of work for three lucky individuals. As participants in Easterseals’ workforce development program, an initiative designed to provide a supportive transition to community-based employment for people with disabilities, they are the first to take part in a new partnership between Easterseals and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

In this inclusive workforce model, community partners offer part-time employment opportunities combined with socio-recreational experiences. At the Zoo, individuals will work from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. every day and then enjoy a variety of community-based outings that are made available to encourage full community integration. Participants learn transferable work skills and earn minimum wage while enjoying a regular schedule, routine environment, and on-site support staff provided by Easterseals.

“The Zoo has been an invaluable partner for many years, offering community experiences to the individuals we serve and working with our social enterprises Building Value and Building Ability,” says Pam Green, President and CEO of Easterseals serving Greater Cincinnati. “We are grateful for their continued support creating opportunities for growth and development for everyone.”

The program’s inaugural day welcomed three participants: Antwan Gunn, Danny Coleman and Tonisha Wheelright. The program is set to grow to have a total of ten participants.

“We’re happy to provide the opportunity for people with disabilities to gain work experience, and we value what they can contribute,” said Ken Groves, Cincinnati Zoo Program Supervisor. “The team got off to a great start and helped out in Manatee Springs, the Bird House, Night Hunters and Insect World.”

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About Easterseals

Easterseals serving Greater Cincinnati breaks down barriers to employment for people with disabilities, people facing disadvantages, and veterans. Easterseals has a proven history in advancing diversity and inclusion in the community and workforce for more than 40 years. Easterseals is a United Way Agency Partner specializing in one-to-one attention that empowers individuals to meet personal and professional goals. www.eastersealsgc.org.  

About Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden:

The world famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to inspiring visitors to care about wildlife and wild places.  It has been rated the #1 attraction locally and one of the top zoos in the nation by Zagat Survey.  It has also received rave reviews from Child Magazine, Parents Magazine, USA Today and TripAdvisor.  Over 1.5 million people visit the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, and more than 500 animal and 3000 plant species annually. The Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of  Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants and engages in research and conservation projects worldwide. Known as the #GreenestZooInAmerica, the Zoo is doing its part to conserve natural resources that are critical to saving wildlife and its habitats and is committed  to greening its daily operations and reducing its impact on the environment through the use of rain gardens, recycled building materials, solar panels and more. The Cincinnati Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.