LEWISTOWN – When Megan Maclay isn’t busy volunteering at church, swimming in the Special Olympics, dancing at Taz Fitness or working at SKILLS, she likes to pick up a camera and take pictures. The fact that she was born with Down’s Syndrome has never slowed her down.
“I like to stay busy,” Megan said. “I have a job and I’m independent.”
Recently, one of Megan’s photos was chosen as a feature piece in the Works for Me Employment Resources and Work Incentives 2013 calendar. Her photo, “Garden Pleasures,” represents the month of July.
“I have been taking pictures for a long time,” Megan said. “I love flowers and the picture turned out very nice. It makes me very happy that they picked my picture.”
Megan’s photo captures the image of a vintage bike, resting against the wooden fence of a garden. The bike’s travel basket holds a collection of purple and yellow flowers as the sun shines on the ground.
Dawn Wray, a community specialist through Supportive Concepts, had encouraged Megan to submit work for the contest. This was a great chance for Megan to showcase her artistic talents, she added.
“Megan is always game to try something new,” Wray said. “She ended up submitting two photos and a watercolor. I just had a gut feeling she would be a finalist.”
Megan’s photo, and 11 others, were chosen out of 370 submissions, said Diane Cashman, program director of Works for Me, an organization that assists people living with disabilities to find a job. This is the second year the organization has held the calendar contest, she added.
“The calendar project is such a neat idea for people with disabilities to showcase their talents,” Cashman said. “It’s such a heartwarming project and the artwork is just amazing.”
Works for Me wanted to make sure the artists received recognition for their work, Cashman said. So each of the finalists were invited to stay the night at Hershey Lodge and attend an awards ceremony.
Megan stayed at the hotel and went to the ceremony with her brother, she said. Going as a family was important to her, she added.
“They had a dinner to honor us and we got certificates,” Megan said. “It was very exciting.”
Each of the finalists also received 25 copies of the calendar to give to family and friends, Cashman said. Works for Me then distributed more than 40,000 copies to organizations, agencies and schools across Pennsylvania.
“The main purpose of the calendar is for outreach and education, promoting employment for people with disabilities,” Cashman said. “Each page of the calendar includes important information and resources for those who work with people living with a disability.”
It’s especially important that the calendars be used by guidance counselors in schools to teach students with disabilities that they can pursue employment or higher education after high school, Cashman said.
All of the Works for Me services are provided at no cost, Cashman said. People living with a disability can use the organization’s resources to access agencies and programs that help with finding a job, obtaining job training, keeping health insurance, getting assistive technology, finding support and possibly increasing monthly income.