8th August 2017
Mentally disabled thrive if given a chance
By Xu Wenwen and Shi Jia
To get a cup of coffee at Hangzhou’s Wisdom Tree Cafe, customers need to wait much longer than in usual coffee houses, but nobody minds because it’s all for a good cause. The baristas, cashiers and bakers are mentally impaired.
The staff members are associated with the Hangzhou Yanglingzi School, which teaches the mentally disabled skills that help them find jobs and join the mainstream of society. At the cafe, the school’s teachers, students’ parents and volunteers also pitch in to keep the business running smoothly.
The cafe was started by the school three years ago.
“The mentally impaired need to meet and communicate with people instead of just staying shut in at home,” said Zhu Jiawei, manager of the cafe and a teacher at the school.
According to local federation for the disabled in Hangzhou, about 30,000 people in the city suffer some level of intellectual impairment. The school and charity organizations, while helpful, reach out to only a small portion of them.