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Emmy at Joey D Fitness

A Win-Win Employment Story

When adults graduate from the Els for Autism Foundation Work Experience Program and find the right job with the right business, it is a win-win for the employee and employer.

Emmalee (Emmy) Bell graduated from The Learning Academy and attended the Work Experience Program in partnership with PGA Resort and Spa. During her Work Experience Program training, the departments she worked in were housekeeping and golf. Emmy had been previously trained to work on a computer, mainly scanning and data entry. When seeking an employer with a position to match Emmy’s skills, Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager, at Els for Autism Foundation talked to Emerson Stratton, Director of Operations, at Joey D Golf. After defining the job skills that were needed at Joey D Golf, Kerri determined Emmy was a perfect match.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Emerson had helped at a YMCA summer camp in that supported children with autism. He had a positive experience and knew individuals with autism possessed strong skills such as attention to detail.

“Communication was a challenge at first,” Emerson said. Emmy was provided with a task analysis of what she needed to do, a checklist, and a social story for her to be able to greet customers. She was then able to work well with the social narrative that outlines social expectations. Understanding that Emmy was non-verbal, Emerson was able to provide visual directions to get her set-up. “Emmy can watch me do a task and then she will just do it,” said Emerson, “I create something visual for her, give her the task, and she gets it done.” Emmy has been trained to ask Emerson for help when she needs it.

Currently, Emmy works at Joey D Golf two days a week from 2-4 p.m. Her job routine includes cleaning equipment and data entry to maintain client folders electronically. Because this employment has been so successful, Kerri’s team is looking into other fitness centers in the area to expand her hours.

“When a company is small, tasks can be tailored to meet the needs of the employee and the employer, which makes the employment of Emmy at Joey D Golf a win-win situation,” Kerri said.