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The non-profit, Celebrate EDU, also provides business and entrepreneurial education for people with disabilities.

DENVER — It’s the time of year when shoppers are hunting for gifts and trying to stay local.

A non-profit, Celebrate EDU, which provides entrepreneurial education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said they have some great business owners for you.

“A lot of people don’t think that people with disabilities can be entrepreneurs, but we definitely can,” said Brent Anderson, owner of Brent’s Pets Pizzazz.

He started his business in January.

“I dedicate a lot of time and effort into this business and I really love doing it,” he said.

His products include hand-made snuffle matts for pets.

“They’re a great enrichment toy,” said Anderson. “They encourage foraging behavior and they’re good for mental stimulation and they can improve eating habits.”

On Friday and Saturday, Celebrate EDU hosted a pop-up shop at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation that featured small business owners with disabilities from all across the country.

“Right now 81% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed in the U.S., so we want to create more opportunities and self-employment or starting their own business is a great fit for a lot of people,” said Jenny Anderson, co-founder and CEO of Celebrate EDU. “The mission is to support opportunities for our people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Each entrepreneur is a student or received a micro-grant to start their business venture.

“I sell glass art,” said Ethan Davis, owner of 3ND Glass.

Davis turned his passion for glass blowing into his own business.

“The Chihuly exhibit came to the Denver Botanic Gardens in 2014 and I went, like, every month. When I left, I told my parents I wanted to do some glass blowing,” said Davis. “So when I was 14, I got some lessons for my birthday and then I just kept going.”

At the pop-up shop, 18 entrepreneurs with disabilities from all across the country are selling their products.

“It’s something she has a lot of pride in,” said Shyanne Richardson, mother of Tania Richardson.

Tania is the owner behind Special T Teas.

“Finding a job with a traumatic brain injury is hard, to say the least, so we just figured we’d do it ourselves,” said Shyanne.

She said her daughter blends her own organic, herbal loose leaf teas.

“I think that she’s had so many struggles and so many people saying, ‘No, no, no, no. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t,'” said Shyanne. “To have something like this to show the world that she can if given the right supports. It’s nice. It’s rewarding for her. I see her shine. I love it.”

With each purchase, customers here are supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs with disabilities.

“It makes me have a great sense of accomplishment,” said Anderson. “It’s very satisfying when people buy my products because it really emphasizes this is a great business.”

To support these entrepreneurs, check out their businesses on the Celebrate Shop website.

To apply for a micro-grant from Celebrate EDU, click here. 

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