By Lethbridge Herald on July 21, 2015.
The Voices at the Table for Advocacy committee sees the ability in everyone, and strives to create equal opportunities for all.
VATTA is a steering committee for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and is comprised of a group of adults living with Down syndrome from communities across the country, including Lethbridgeâ€™s Brandon Thielen.
The advocacy group was first introduced in 2005 and has been working over the past 10 years to share the voices and abilities of those with Down syndrome in hope of creating equal opportunities for those living with disabilities.
â€œVATTA has helped me become more out in the community helping people, showing them what we are capable of doing,â€ said Thielen.
â€œI help by standing up for their rights and speaking for them, because sometimes other people who have Down syndrome and other disabilities donâ€™t really know how to do that themselves, so I help them,â€ he said.
The group meets with members of the CDSS at least three times a year to share their advocacy efforts and discuss the current issues many living with Down syndrome face like education, support and employment.
Thielen faced his employment issues head on. After he graduated from the Campus Connections program at Lethbridge College, he struggled to find work.
â€œAfter college I tried finding similar jobs that was with computers but there wasnâ€™t any.â€
Thatâ€™s when he made the decision to start his own business Photos Galore.
His business takes old photographic slides and negatives and scans them to electronic files and also converts old VHS videos into DVDs.
Heâ€™s been running his business since 2008 and is a successful entrepreneur and he wants people to know heâ€™s just like everyone else.
â€œWe are just like a regular person. Thereâ€™s no need to worry or be nervous about it. We are all the same.â€