Mom inspiring kids with special needs to become entrepreneurs

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A local mom wants to make sure everyone is focusing on the ability of children and not their disability.

She's launched a new business in hopes to inspire kids with special needs to be entrepreneurs.

The I am Who I am Foundation is empowering kids with varying abilities to be their own boss!

"We decided to come up with our own little company called I am bath and body products. Our children label, they package, they sell and we use it as a fundraiser to come back into the 'I am Who I am' Foundation so our mission is always stays the same. Now our mission has expanded. We want everyone to get to know our kids to show them their ability, not their disability. Our children aren't disabled. They are just like everybody else," Holly Simon, executive director of I am Who I am, said.

Students at Ray Graham Training Center are the first to take part. Teachers say they are seeing vast improvement in their social skills.

"I have noticed so many changes in these students since they have been a part of the "I am" program. They have been empowered when you see them out in public speaking and interacting, talking about the products and how they've been a part of it, it's beautiful to see," art teacher Katie Kursch said.

"We're learning how to encourage ourselves to get on the job and do other stuff as well," student Genaro Jackson said.

Simon says beyond learning the basics of a small business it opens up new possibilities for their future.

"We're giving them the opportunity and with that opportunity they can go anywhere they choose. This isn't about me, this isn't about the teachers ... this is about this is about our children. We are not giving them opportunities where there was never an opportunity before," she said.

And for students like Danais Thomas, this will lead him to an opportunity to fulfill his dream of being a broadcaster.

"They have 10 o'clock news tonight for ABC 7 Eyewitness News with Alan Krashesky, Kathy Brock, and Cheryl Burton also sports with Mark Giangreco and weather is Cheryl Scott," Thomas said.
Check out those skills!

The "I am Who I am" Foundation is already in talks to expand the business program to two other CPS schools on the North and South sides of the city.

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