When Sean McElwee was little, his parents had to translate his speech because nobody could understand him. They said he spoke “Seanese.” Now he is putting his thoughts and expressions on T-shirts so you can speak Seanese too! He wants the world to know that “having Down syndrome isn’t that big of a deal. Especially new moms and dads because every baby should be celebrated and nobody should cry because they have a baby with Down syndrome”
Sean is one of the cast members with Down syndrome on “Born This Way”, an Emmy Award-winning show highlighting the lives of seven young adults as they build and navigate friendships and seek to live independent lives. The show also serves to break down stigmas surrounding people with disabilities.
With Sean’s new-found stardom, he visited Capitol Hill in his home state and delivered a powerful message about entrepreneurship for jobseekers with disabilities. Sean spoke about his mission to “show the world that people with Down syndrome can have a business and give back!”
According to the Census Bureau, one in 10 employed persons with disabilities is self-employed. Philip Kahn-Pauli, RespectAbility’s Policy and Practices Director said, “Sean’s entrepreneurial spirit delivers a clear message about the value of self-employment for people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities find their best option for employment is starting their own business.”
RespectAbility’s President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi added, “People with disabilities often have doors to employment slammed in their faces. But they have tremendous skills. Thus, many have gone on to start their own successful companies. For example, Arthur Young, who was largely deaf and later had low vision, started Ernst & Young which is now known as EY. Today more than 150,000 people work for EY. Sean McElwee and others on Born This Way show how people with disabilities can achieve their dreams through enterprise.”
Sean designs every T-shirt with a message and it’s his message. Nobody tells him what to say on his shirts. Sean says, “Let’s all laugh, because that’s my favorite thing and I bet it’s your favorite thing too. Let your shirt speak for you. It’s about the positive message and shouting your value because you belong. You rock! Everyone is special and unique and breaks the mold. Help me tell the world to grin and wear it!”
The 3-21 Foundation is happy to partner with Sean this year for World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). Please visit his website and use the code “LPB” to purchase WDSD T-shirts for your family and friends. You’ll be supporting our work too as 10% of all proceeds will come back to the 3-21 Foundation. While there, check out the 150 designs that Sean has to offer.
Let’s support Sean so that he too can live a purposeful and independent life!