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New Calgary coffee shop hires employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Credit: INSTAGRAM/Lil E Coffee Cafe

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A cafe that opened in downtown Calgary this past week is doing a lot more than just pouring hot coffee.

Lil E Coffee Cafe in Sun Life Plaza employs Calgarians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The coffee shop’s founder Paul Constance says they have hired 10 employees – five with autism and five with Down syndrome.

“Almost a clean mix too in terms of females and males,” he said. “They’re young adults starting off. Some have worked before part-time. Half of them have never had a job in their life.”

Constance says the workers have deep connections in the community.

“There’s a number of folks that have been to the Special Olympics, so they have a huge support and fans around them and coaches and people that want to see them succeed.”

 

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Constance was inspired by a cafe in the United States doing something similar. He was also inspired by his three-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, and her outlook on life.

“So thankful to have a family member with Down syndrome just because of the enjoyment it brings to their family and people around them, how they simplify life because they don’t see negativity,” he said.

And so far, Constance says the reception to the cafe has exceeded expectations.

“I’m humbled and grateful to live in such a great city. Because we’ve had a ton of media attention, social media and all that jazz. My phone’s blowing up.”

Calgarians can drop by Lil E Coffee Cafe every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.