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24th Jul 2021

Dad buys ice-cream van to create jobs for his two children with Down’s Syndrome

Danny Jones

Dad creates ice cream truck business to give his children with Down's Syndrome work experience

Brilliant stuff

A dad from Loveland, Ohio in America was worried that his two children would struggle to find job opportunities due to having Down’s Syndrome, so he came up with a brilliant idea: create the work himself.

Named by his wife, Freida, Joe Wegener bought the ‘Special Neat Treats’ ice cream van not only to give his children work experience but as a tribute to the special needs community and in order to provide valuable life skills such as managing finances, communication, customer service, as well as all-round social skills.

As you see in the video above, the ice cream truck is now a huge part of the local community and is run by Joe – a father of ten! – his son Josh, 18, and his daughter Mary Kate, 21. You absolutely love to see it.

Not only is this a valuable resource for both his children and others who come to visit, who gain a greater understanding of what people with Down’s Syndrome can achieve even in the face of additional obstacles, but a wonderful example of how more opportunities can be created for those with fewer advantages when it comes to employment.

The van itself has been up and running for a while now, selling over 5,000 ice creams and desserts already; here’s what the team serving up scoops to a local graduation party just a few days ago:

The idea started when Mary Kate had just finished her career pathways course and said that she’s always wanted to “work with papa.” Joel said that “once we started talking about this ice cream business, it was just a natural to bring her in and also bring Josh in, who told Cincinnati-based news station WLWT, simply: “We love ice cream and we all scream for ice cream.”

The trio are showing no signs of stopping either: dad Joe wants to make next summer even bigger and better, as he says he’s considering buying a fleet of trucks to spread their ice cream, insight and positivity. Here they are visiting a state hospital.

Reminding people of why lovely acts like this are so important, Wegener said: “It’s much more than selling ice cream. It’s about an experience for everybody, but to give my kids something to do and show other parents maybe there is something creative, out of the box that we can come up for our family and for our kids to do.”

Brilliant stuff – right, I’m off to get an ice cream.