Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Hotel shop aims to change view of Down syndrome

Staff writer, with CNA

A foundation selling products made by people with Down syndrome opened a shop on Monday at the Miramar Garden Taipei hotel as part of its efforts to change public perception of the condition.

“Besides boosting sales and employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome, having a store in a five-star hotel adds credibility to the quality of products made by individuals with disabilities,” said Lin Mei-chih (林美智), chief executive of the Republic of China Down Syndrome Foundation, which set up the store.

The shop will sell handmade soap, essential oils, seasonings, pastries and noodles made from Taiwanese wheat and soybeans under the brand Abrazo, which means “embrace” in Spanish.

Commissioned by the Taipei City Foreign and Disabled Labor Office, the first Abrazo shop was set up at the Taipei MRT Nangang Station in January. The Miramar Garden outlet is its second store.

Miramar Garden offered the site rent-free and all revenues will go to the foundation, hotel public relations assistant manager Dora Hung said.

Lin said the hotel contacted the foundation after an incident at a McDonald’s store last month.

Staff at a McDonald’s store in Greater Kaohsiung called the police to remove a patron with Down syndrome, saying she was causing trouble for other customers. However, when the police arrived, they found the customer sitting quietly in a corner. The incident sparked a public outcry and led to apologies from senior executives of the fast-food chain.

“We hope that more businesses will allow us to set up shops at their venues,” Lin said, adding that the foundation will open another shop in Taipei this year and plans to open more in the future.

Lin urged the public to support products made by people with Down syndrome.

There are more than 30,000 people with Down syndrome in Taiwan, the foundation said.

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