A father-of-two in Ohio bought an ice cream van for his two children with Down’s syndrome in April so they could work with him on turning it into a business.
Joel Wegener, 61, is a retired science teacher and was keen to help his son Josh, 18, and his daughter, Mary, 21, find full-time employment.
He purchased an old ice cream truck online for $6,000 and after treating it to some repairs, he renamed it Special Neat Treats and recruited Josh and Mary to work with him.
The truck has been running throughout the summer in the family’s hometown of Loveland and has become a huge success among the locals.
“When we bought the ice cream truck in January I never expected for this to happen,” Wegener said.
“The publicity we have received is amazing, and we hope that we can inspire other families with special needs kids to find new and inventive ways to support their children.
“Mary always wanted to work with me, but up until now there hasn’t been a suitable job opportunity for her.
“The reason the ice cream truck is so perfect is that it has allowed them both to develop their interactive and social skills in a comfortable environment.
“When they’re at work they practice things like smiling and asking questions - things that before they really struggled with.”
He continued: “Josh is in his senior year at school so he isn’t around as much, but Mary is nearly 22 and therefore no longer eligible for public education.
“We were worried about what she’d be able to do once she reached this age, but the ice cream truck has really eased our concerns.”
Josh and Mary added: “Our dad is the best dad ever and we love to sell ice cream with him.
“We have a really fun summer and we hope we have good luck selling ice cream in the future.”
Wegener has eight other children with his wife, Freida.
“We were not afraid of having special needs children or the challenges that came with it,” she said.
The NHS states that Down’s syndrome is when you’re born with an extra chromosome.
“You usually get an extra chromosome by chance, because of a change in the sperm or egg before you’re born,” it adds.
“This change does not happen because of anything anyone did before or during pregnancy.”
People with Down’s syndrome will have some degree of learning disability. Find out more here.