Business as a Form of Advocacy

By September 4, 2014Experiencing Inclusion
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Teddy-in-hoodieTeddy Fitzmaurice, President of Teddy’s Ts, designs, paints, and sells his t-shirts and buttons promoting human rights and disability advocacy. Teddy, an entrepreneur with Down syndrome, is striving for independence and a self-directed life. The business helps Teddy be the independent person he wants to be. His micro-enterprise demonstrates how inclusion drives success. Teddy lives in his own condo on a level beneath his mom’s condo. He graduated from high school in 2003, but he continues to learn through cooking classes and his business, which he began in April 2006. He has sold his t-shirts and buttons in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, and many more places he would not have visited otherwise.

His business is a form of advocacy. People meet Teddy and realize how many misconceptions there are about people with Down syndrome. They also realize that a person with Down syndrome can care very deeply about causes that affect others.

Teddy believes in the dignity of every person, no matter their background, lifestyle, beliefs, or abilities. His buttons and shirts are not just about disability awareness, but also gay rights, reproductive rights, religious diversity, peace, animal rights, and so much more.  Teddy is a proud member of two activist organizations – ADAPT and Not Dead Yet.

Teddy spent the summer of 2010 learning to silkscreen. It’s a process– some shirts come out as expected, while others come with a few surprises, little extra ink blobs here and there.  Please continue to support him while he learns!

Some t-shirts are professionally printed in one-color, similar to a coloring book.  Then, Teddy hand paints in extra color. Teddy tries to paint inside the lines, but just like the rest of us, he strays a bit every once in a while.

Teddy paintingHe also makes all of the small buttons himself, using a Badge-A-Mint electronic button-making machine. Teddy can make about fifty buttons in an hour.

On August 19, 2013, Teddy received the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) Dan Moran Award for Inclusion and Advocacy. As the award recipient, Teddy accompanied the OCCMHA Executive Director during “Hill Day” in Washington D.C. This event is held to educate members of Congress about important issues related to people who have disabilities.

Teddy and his mom are available to speak at conferences, schools, and places where people support individuals with disabilities to become self-employed. His mom has worked to craft a business that Teddy enjoys and is successful at. It did not happen overnight, and many changes are still ahead. Some of the solutions they found to accommodate Teddy’s disabilities will work for most micro-enterprises. If you are passionate about supporting a person who is making their mark in the world, and that has the desire to do something more with their life, Teddy’s Ts can help!

– Written by Susan and Teddy Fitzmaurice, Edited by KIT Staff

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.

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