When it comes to special-needs education, Lindsey Turner is breaking down the walls one biz at a time.
July 1, 2015 – Atlanta, GA. – Hugh Hefner’s birthday party—that’s where Special Needs Communities founder Lindsey Turner’s life changed. “I remember I saw a celebrity who looked absolutely miserable,” says the 35-year-old Roswell native who now calls the Kennesaw area home. “It made me question whether or not fame and money were really all that they were cracked up to be. I began thinking about how I could have a greater impact on people and the world during my life.”
And that was the beginning of the former software and music industry vet’s work with the special-needs community. A Kennesaw State grad, Turner got his feet wet in the world of nonprofits by majoring in health and human services in college. So, founding The Golden Soldiers, a nonprofit that hosts events for children and families with special needs, was a natural first step. Then, after about seven years of listening to the families he worked with tell him about how they were mistreated in day-to-day life, Turner decided he needed to do more. “One morning, I was sitting at a coffee shop, and it came to me: I could educate people on how to treat those with special needs better,” he says. “Special Needs Communities is the only social enterprise that trains businesses, cities and organizations on how to better treat individuals with special needs and disabilities.”
Since the biz launched in October 2014, employees at Moe’s, State Farm, and even the cities of Alpharetta and Decatur have been trained by Turner, learning everything from how to interact with people in wheel chairs to what not to say when talking to people with special needs. There’s also an online component to the service that allows folks with special needs to find certified organizations and share feedback with others, think Yelp for people with special needs.
So what’s up next for Turner and his nonprofit know-how? His goal is to certify all cities in the state of Georgia by the end of 2015 and to have Special Needs Certified businesses based in all 50 states. “It’s so satisfying when a mom asks to meet with me, and she just hugs me and starts crying and saying, ‘Thank you,’” he says. “Knowing I’m making other people’s lives more enjoyable and educating people about how to treat everyone with love and acceptance is pretty awesome.”
@sncertified –Amelia Pavlik
Special Needs Communities is a social enterprise focused on uniting communities and creating environments where everyone, regardless of their abilities, is treated with love and acceptance.
For additional information on the Special Needs Communities, please visit www.specialneedscommunities.com.
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