Toyota Indiana offers job training for people with disabilities

Members of the enclave work all throughout Toyota Indiana's facilities.
Members of the enclave work all throughout Toyota Indiana's facilities.(WFIE)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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GIBSON CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Toyota Indiana has been running an enclave program for people with disabilities since 2014.

The company partnered with The Arc Southwest Indiana, a group that works for the advancement of people with disabilities within their communities.

Executive Director Stan Keepes says for many people, there have been barriers.

“For too long, they’ve just been secluded and lived on their own, or continue to live with their families and been brought to a day program,” he said.

It’s an issue that Ted Brown noticed in his personal life.

“My son, Zach, he’s 24 years old,” Brown explained. “He was born with spina bifida.”

Brown says the goals he had for his son were goals that everyone wants for their kids.

“My wife and I wanted to see him gain inclusion through employment and then, finally, independence,” he said.

Seeing how sparse opportunities can be for people with disabilities, thanks to the help from his team, Brown used his role at Toyota Indiana to begin the process of establishing an enclave program.

The enclave program is for a group of people who receive on-the-job training all across the facilities. Since starting in 2014, it has grown in Indiana and beyond.

Brown says they have other enclaves at Toyota plants in West Virginia and Texas, and there are even some in development in Canada.

Toyota provides the opportunities and the training, while Arc helps get them in touch with their workforce.

“It’s why we do what we do,” Keepes said. “We know that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be successful.”

Many, like Brown’s son Zach, have found a long-term home.

“I can happily say he’s been working here for three years now,” Brown said of his son. “He’s been living on his own for two and a half years, and he comes to work thinking he’s saving the world every day.”

Brown said nearly 40 people from the program now have jobs at Toyota Indiana.

People interested in the program can check out or call The Arc Southwest Indiana’s Gibson County branch at 812-386-6312.

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