Starting from April, customers visiting Walmart Hypermarket Wuhou Store in Chengdu may come across Walmart "associates" wearing a work vest and a badge with "Big Dream Achiever" written on it. Please smile at these "associates" and interact with them with patience. They are members of the "Big Dream Achiever Program", through which Walmart provides work experience opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities. In the next 8 months, Sam's Club Futian in Shenzhen and Sam's Club OCT in Chengdu will also welcome mentally challenged youth who will engage in club operations and provide services to members.
The 2023 "Big Dream Achiever Program" kicked off at Walmart Hypermarket Wuhou Store in Chengdu
The "Big Dream Achiever Program" was jointly launched by Walmart China and Shenzhen One Foundation with professional institutional support from the Shenzhen Association for Families with Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, and the Chengdu Wuhou District Benevolence Family Disability Assistance Center. The program aims to help mentally challenged youth to better integrate into society and to enhance their employment opportunities in the future.
This year, the Wuhou Store and the two Sam's Clubs will regularly offer work experience activities to more mentally challenged youth. In addition, the program will sponsor 14 specialized training sessions in Shenzhen and Chengdu for mentally challenged youth, their parents, and employment counselors to create a better environment for these young people to live independently and fulfill their employment aspirations.
Creating an open and inclusive environment that helps young people with intellectual disabilities to integrate into society and fulfill their career aspirations
Over the years, Walmart has been committed to promoting a diverse, fair and inclusive culture within the company and in communities. Such efforts seek to make everyone who shops and works at Walmart feel respected and welcomed, and obtain equal opportunities for development. Currently, Walmart provides different job positions for more than 800 associates with disabilities, and more than 70% of them have worked with Walmart for than five years. In addition, Walmart is exploring more ways to help people with disabilities to integrate into society. For five consecutive years, Walmart has supported mentally challenged youth to gain work experience for social integration and improved employment prospects.
Walmart's in-store work opportunities enables young people with intellectual disabilities to go out of their homes and schools to experience various work environments, and become familiar with team collaboration and workplace rules. Also, continuously acquiring working experience in the same store creates a more stable work environment and atmosphere. This stability helps these young people to continuously solidify their employment skills, professional competence, and confidence in obtaining employment. Considering the characteristics and work habits of these young people, Walmart has arranged for jobs matching their abilities and specialties. They have been positioned in the apparel, bakery, e-commerce bagging and fruit and vegetables areas to experience and learn about different types of work.
Furthermore, the "Big Dream Achiever Program" enables more Walmart associates, customers, members and the general public to see the abilities of mentally challenged youth in working and creating social value. The program aims to create a barrier-free environment of respect, equality, acceptance and inclusion that integrates mentally challenged youth into society.
A participant sorts out apparel with the guidance of Walmart associates.
Providing systematic training and guidance to build a support network for adults with intellectual disabilities
According to the Shenzhen Association for Families with Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, it is estimated from data of the National Population Census of Persons with Disabilities that there are approximately 12 million people with intellectual disabilities in China. However, services provided to these individuals are mostly concentrated on children, and services for adults are still very limited. However, many mentally challenged youth need lifelong social integration support, as well as continuous assistance and training in independent living, pre-employment education, career transition and employment.
To this end, the "Big Dream Achiever Program" has continued to expand its scope to support more individuals and training this year. It offers around 100 work experience opportunities at the three outlets to empower more older mentally challenged youth who are interested and with employment needs. The participants will also receive training in community integration, independent living skills, and professional competence to enhance their independence and employability. To build a more comprehensive support network for mentally challenged youth, the program will also offer training for parents of mentally challenged youth in Shenzhen and Chengdu, as well as training for career counselors to enhance their abilities. This will further their knowledge to professionally help mentally challenged youth to achieve self-reliance and independent living to explore their own needs and dreams.
"Big Dream Achiever Program" participants and Walmart China associates cut the cake at the launch ceremony.
"Dreams are to people what light and heat are to grass and trees, and what clarity to fish and shrimps." We call youth with intellectual disabilities "Youth with Heart" in Chinese, which means 'youth who live with their heart and soul'. Like us, they too love life, have dreams, and long to be acknowledged and achieve self-actualization. As World Autism Awareness Day approaches, Walmart hopes that more of us in the community will pay attention to and understand mentally challenged youth; and with openness, inclusivity and acceptance, we will create a pluralistic, independent, equal and integrated society for them to realize their dreams.
Big Dream Achiever Program
In 2019, Walmart China and Shenzhen One Foundation jointly launched the "Wal-Love Afternoon Tea" project, providing mentally challenged youth with practical work experience. Walmart China recruited associate volunteers to accompany, guide and encourage the participants, and worked with their families to help them integrate into society.
In 2020, the project was renamed "Big Dream Achiever", and was upgraded from a half-day work experience activity into a one-week work experience program at Walmart stores. The enhanced program provided the participants with hands-on experience in various positions in store operations, strengthening their professional skills and benefiting their future employment.