Since our ’97 co-founding of Planet Access with nonprofit Search Inc., we’ve worked hard to create opportunities for everyone, from career growth to art and travel. We’re proud to offer Disability Awareness Trainings that build confidence and experience to communicate with anyone in your workplace who has disabilities, including customers. Our goal is to make a difference together by offering these trainings to as many partner brands and retailers as possible.
Get to know Lanni and Anthony, two of our Disability Awareness Players who lead trainings.
Toad&Co: Tell us about yourselves. How long have you been Disability Awareness Players?
Lanni: I'm Lanni Simmel. I've been a Player for 8 months.
Anthony: I'm Anthony Clark. I've been a Player for almost 3 months. I'm the newest Player.
Toad: Nice to chat with you both! October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. What is your favorite part about being a Disability Awareness Player?
Lanni: To educate others about disability awareness. No matter where you go, people still say the wrong words. They down talk like you're a child, and these trainings help me feel more confident when interacting with people and going into the community.
Anthony: They help me speak up for myself and feel more confident. I feel proud of myself because of people supporting me, house staff and staff at Lincoln, and my family.
Toad: Do you have a favorite place you have done a training so far?
Lanni: Goodman – I love theaters!
Anthony: With the Search Inc. board of directors (my first one!).
Toad: What about being a Disability Awareness Player empowers you and others in the workplace and in your lives?
Lanni: It empowers me to feel more confident.
Anthony: It empowers me to think about the present and not the past, to feel more positive, and I've learned a lot through the experience.
Toad: When you were first approached to lead a Disability Awareness Training, how did it make you feel?
Anthony: I was happy!
Lanni: When I was first approached, I was shocked. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to do it at first. But once I read the script, I realized I could do this.
Toad: Why do you think Disability Awareness Trainings are important for businesses, libraries and schools?
Lanni: To know about different abilities of others – there's tons to learn about.
Anthony: Especially how to interact with people who use walkers and wheelchairs.
Toad: If you could train anywhere in the world, where would you love to go?
Lanni: Santa Barbara with the Toads!
Anthony: Santa Barbara too!
Toad: Lanni, can you tell us about your past experiences working in the community?
Lanni: I worked at Home Depot in the past. I've also worked at Betsy Ross doing flag cutting, and Sears too. I loved worked at the Planet Access Company warehouse, I worked there for a while before the pandemic. I worked doing packaging, returns and refolding for Toad&Co. This was my favorite job in the past!
Toad: Anthony, can you tell us about your job search and how it made you feel to start as a Disability Awareness Player?
Anthony: I tried to find a job, but it's hard because I don't use email. I hope to have another job in the community in the future. I'd like a job close to home and a small business like a restaurant of a bakery. I love being a Player as my first job!
Toad: Can you each tell us about some of your hobbies?
Lanni: I like watching horror movies – I just finished watching The Nun. I also enjoy going on outings and doodling.
Anthony: I like sports and being active. I'm part of Special Olympics and the park district. My favorite sport is swimming, and I'm an artist.
Toad: Sounds like fun! What is your best advice for others?
Lanni: It's important to listen and be patient with others.
Anthony: I'm very happy – enjoy yourself! Just be yourself, not anybody else.