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Travis Planas Developmental Disabilities Employee of the Year

LIHU‘E — Travis Planas was named the Vocational Rehabilitation division Employee of the Year and Target was named the Vocational Rehabilitation division Employer of the Year during a special program at Kaua‘i Veterans Center.

The event, which took place on Saturday, was hosted in part by the Hawai‘i State Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Deanie Ikehara of the Target General Merchandise Executive Team Lead is Planas’ immediate supervisor and is proud of his recognition.

“I’m so blessed to have him on my team,” Ikehara said. “Travis is a great team member. He is always on time, he always has a smile on his face, and is super excited to start his day. He is always willing to help anyone, and very willing to learn.”

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation commended Target for its efforts and dedication in providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“In its short time here on Kaua‘i, Target has shown a dedication to providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” said the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. “Target staff has provided a very supportive environment for all applicants and employees. Both the previous Human Resources Executive Team Lead, Koa Kubera, and the current ETL, Mackenzie Kaneshiro, have collaborated with applicants and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation staff to determine the best fit.”

Amelia Kyewich Kaneolani, the Kaua‘i Program Specialist for the Hawai‘i State Council on Developmental Disabilities, said the recognition ceremony at Kaua‘i Veterans Center was part of the celebration of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The ceremony honored employment, enrichment and inclusion.

October 2023 marks the 78th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As a further emphasis on the importance of disability employment awareness, Hawai‘i has passed Act 245 that designates October as “Disability Awareness Month: Employment, Enrichment, and Inclusion.”

Act 245 recognizes the employment challenges and successes of persons with disabilities in the state of Hawai‘i, said Kyewich-Kaneholani. As the road to a diverse workforce requires both a long-term commitment and an active participation of executive leaders, Act 245 leads with a promising step in the right direction.

Hawai‘i is identified as an “Employee First” state that resulted in the establishment of the Hawai‘i Association of People Supporting Employment First to increase disability employment through support and professional staff.

APSE allows persons with disabilities to maximize their inclusion, accessibility, independence and productivity by learning in settings that provide cutting edge training and learning systems.

The function of the Developmental Disabilities Council is to provide advocacy, quality assurance, capacity building, and systems change activities on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities.
Source: The Garden Island

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