Hidden Talents Initiative aims at employing people with disablities

Posted at 2:14 PM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 18:38:05-04

An initiative to strengthen our workforce here in Michigan.  It’s a program started by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein and Monday they were joined by baseball legend Jim Abbott.

7 Action News Reporter Ann Marie LaFlamme served as the emcee for the event which is all about inclusion and hiring people with disabilities but creating successful business models in doing so.

“I had to find a different way of doing things, I had to find a different way of holding a baseball bat or switching the glove on and off and so creativity and open mindedness was a big part of my childhood,” Jim Abbott said.

He’s an icon in the baseball world and an inspiration to people with disabilities everywhere Abbott served as the keynote speaker at Monday’s event reminding employers of what people with disabilities are capable of.

“There’s different kinds of strategies we can use to make this work but the key is that you have to make it a priority and you can’t just be open to it, you have to be willing to take action,” Lt Governor Brian Calley said.

The Michigan Hidden Talents Initiative was started by Calley and Bernstein in 2015.

“When you’re able to see somebody with a disability whether it’s a physical disability or a cognitive disability get a job or get employment it is the most proud, exciting thing ever,” Bernstein said. “Because you can go through your life and you can get educated and you can get all these kinds of things but when someone says ‘I want to hire you to work in my company, I want to hire you to work in my business, I want you to be a part of my organization’ - that gives you the most incredible gift ever, it gives you your dignity and it gives you your pride. And what happens when someone says I want you to work for me, you literally feel like you can do anything.”

They held workshops throughout the day teaching business leaders this isn’t about charity, it’s about the successful implementation of this underutilized and often underestimated population.

“A lot of times people think people with disabilities can do janitorial work or work in the food service and there’s nothing wrong with that kind of work, it’s just that we shouldn’t limit people just to a couple different options,” Calley said.

Monday the Lt. Governor released a video teasing his “big announcement” on May 30th – this time with Justice Bernstein, so of course we had to ask him about the speculation he’ll soon be running for governor.

“All I’m promising is that it’s going to be a very exciting announcement about the future,” he said

If you’d like to get involved in the Michigan Hidden Talents Initiative you can head to