CINCINNATI, OH (March 1, 2017) – March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month, but the partnership between Easterseals and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden builds awareness year-round. Since August 2017, the Zoo has been a work site for the Easterseals Work and Grow program, an initiative designed to provide a supportive transition to community-based employment for people with disabilities.

In this inclusive workforce model, community partners offer part-time employment opportunities combined with socio-recreational experiences. At the Zoo, five individuals work from 7:30 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.

“I check in with the Easterseals crew every day, and they always tell me how much they love working here,” said Ken Groves, Cincinnati Zoo Program Supervisor.  ‘We’re happy to provide them with the opportunity to gain work experience, and we value what they are contributing here at the Zoo.”

This year, the theme for Developmental Disability Awareness Month in the state of Ohio is “Celebrate Community” to highlight people with and without disabilities working, going to school, playing and participating in their communities together.

“The Cincinnati Zoo was a natural fit for our program and has exceeded our expectations,” said Virginia Aylward, Easterseals Supervisor of the Work and Grow program. “They embraced our individuals from day one and have taken a hands-on approach to helping them learn skills that will help them get community jobs. We are so thankful for the Zoo staff’s commitment to us and fostering such an inclusive environment.”

The Work and Grow program is made possible thanks to community partners like the Zoo, and thanks to the generous support of The Spaulding Family Foundation and The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation.

Interview opportunities available. Please contact Michelle Curley at the Zoo to coordinate.


About Easterseals

Easterseals serving Greater Cincinnati breaks down barriers to employment for people with disabilities, people facing disadvantages, and veterans. Locally, Easterseals has a proven history in advancing diversity and inclusion in the community and workforce for more than 40 years. It served more than 8,000 individuals in 2016 and was declared a Top Workplace. Their social enterprise Building Value was named Best of Cincinnati by CityBeat in 2017, and Best of the City by Cincinnati Magazine in 2016. Their art studio and gallery InsideOut Studio was a Spotlight Artist at the Ohio Governor’s residence. Easterseals is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a United Way Agency Partner specializing in one-to-one attention that empowers individuals through employment. 


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.