'Give him a chance': Teen with disability fulfils dream after friend's online job appeal

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Stefan Males’ passion for “B” things like bowling, balloons, basketball and bubbles are just a few things that have earned the teenager a celebrity reputation in his local community.

So when his support worker appealed for help in finding the 19-year-old – from Campbelltown in Sydney’s southwest – the perfect future employer, hundreds rallied behind him with glowing endorsements.

James Lavender, from My Team My Way, took to social media earlier in the month, calling on a business to take a chance on the “bubbly and energetic” man, who has development disorder Williams Syndrome.

“This is my mate Stefan. He is 19 years old... and is looking for work. Stef has Williams Syndrome and is looking for an employer who is willing to give him a chance to shine and help us to #removethebarrier for job seekers with a disability,” Mr Lavender said.

“Stef does some casual lawn mowing work and is in a post-school employment program three days a week.

Sydney man Stefan Males, who was Williams Syndrome, pictured after winning a bowling championship on the left and on the right with one of his great loves – balloons. Source: Liz Males

“He has great communication skills and is very physically active.

“Stef has a very bubbly and energetic personality and would be a value added to any team.”

The support worker also detailed Mr Males’ skills in customer service and willingness to be trained.

Before long the offers came flooding in and Mr Males was confronted with a plethora of potential employment opportunities, but his mum, Liz Males, told Yahoo News Australia it was crucial they found the perfect fit.

Soon enough an ideal offer presented itself, a part-time position working as a party host at The Shine Shed, an indoor playground for people with disabilities in Campbelltown.

Mr Males began his new job last week and has already been assuring his mum he is “living his dream”.

She said he had taken enormous pride in entertaining children, making hot drinks for guests and using a helium tank to blow up balloons.

Mum ‘overwhelmed’ by support

The Shine Shed director Lisa Fruhstuck told Yahoo News Australia since opening her business last year, she had hoped to hire a person with a disability, but a “hectic” 12 months had forced the task to the back bench.

But when she heard about Mr Males’ online campaign, she instantly thought he would be a fantastic addition to her team.

Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, Ms Fruhstuck said she was drawn to his “friendly and outgoing” personality and praised his ability to interact with children.

“He’s a bright and bubbly young man, has a great personality and he’s got some good skills. He’s really interested in balloons and DJ-ing, so we’re looking forward to him helping with both those things with our kids’ parties,” she said.

The business has even invested in a helium tank to boost the appeal for kids and to allow Mr Males to showcase his skills.

His mum said it was “overwhelming” to think of how much support her son had received from the community and how proud she was that he was fulfilling his passion in a meaningful and purposeful way.

A photo of the 19-year-old shared by his support worker as part of his job-seeking campaign. Source: James Lavender

More opportunities needed for kids living with disabilities

By sharing his incredible success, Ms Males, who also works as a support worker at My Team My Way, hoped others would be inspired to think “outside the box” and not feel limited by basic disability support services offered.

“In the funding available for people with disabilities, some people are quite sheltered and parents might be comfortable with that because they might not understand that there is more out there,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“As a parent and working in the industry myself, I see other families not exploring other avenues. There’s no need for everyone to be grouped together.

“I always looked at Stefan like the sky is his limit. I’ve always backed him with where his dreams and passions are.”

Ms Males encouraged others to do their own research and seek out personalised services to aid children and adults living with disabilities fulfil their own unique goals.

Mr Males is nearly at the end of a floristry course, which he is completing alongside his mum, and has represented both Australia and New South Wales as an elite ten-pin bowler through Campbelltown City Bowl.

He also recently joined the disability league and played in a national competition held in Canberra in June this year.

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