Since Luv Michael was founded, our mission has been to create a fresh, all-natural, snack while finding a way to develop the untapped workforce of people with special needs. By creating a viable model, we want to help others develop the skills needed to employ more members of the autism and special needs communities.
Luv Michael’s culinary educational model is based on a uniquely crafted five-prong approach. This innovative Autism Made Autism Paid (AMAP) curriculum includes studies in topics such as food safety and handling, communication and sales, technology, creative arts, and wellness and employability skills. We also address employability and wellness coaching in an effort to prepare these individuals for whatever challenges they may face in the working world.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach, Luv Michael has replicated our program with a different group of participants in a completely different setting. By working in collaboration with the Southampton Greek Orthodox Church, and residents of the East End Disability Association, we created a food preparation team for the church’s special events. With oversight from the Ladies Philoptochos Society, we filled large orders for their catering operation. As of 2019, the effort enabled nine young adults with Autism and special needs to learn kitchen and safety skills while earning a wage for their time. Through this effort, we found that the AMAP curriculum was effective and adaptable.
It is our goal to make AMAP a sustainable program for anyone looking to follow the Luv Michael model. We hope to further develop the curriculum so that other companies can help lead the charge in the transition to more inclusive workplaces. We believe that Autism workforce development should be held to a higher standard of accountability. We also understand that the rest of the workplace needs to be trained as well on how to best collaborate with this new kind of worker.
Most importantly, we emphasize that hiring an individual with Autism will not qualify a business as Autism Made Autism Paid. Under our model, the employee needs to gain marketable skills and continue their development throughout their career. After proof of a commitment to our AMAP standards, a business can apply to use our AMAP logo on their branding material.
We welcome members of the business and special needs communities to join us and explore ways in which we can improve this pursuit. Ours is a mission that continues to evolve. By cooperating with diverse and interested partners, we can develop even further ways to assist and care for these very special people.
If you are a business owner interested in joining this movement, or a special needs professional seeking to have an even greater impact in your field, we invite you to contact us and explore the possibilities.
Dr. Lisa Liberatore, M.D.
Dr. Dimitri Kessaris, M.D.
Founders of LuvMichael.org