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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Kenny Finds Life At The Candy Box Is Sweet Perfection
August 7, 2003

CATONSVILLE, MARYLAND--The Chizmadia family doesn't like to be told "No".

When Kenny Chizmadia was 5 years old, a doctor told his parents, Mary and Dick, that the boy's skull would not grow with his brain and that he would "be a vegetable" by the time he was an adult.

But they wouldn't listen.

"We just decided it didn't make any difference what the doctor said, and we'd just go on so Kenny could be the best person he could be," says Kenny's mother.

Later, Kenny's parents were told to put him in a "special school" for children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Instead, Mary decided to get a teaching degree and help her son succeed in the regular school.

Before Kenny graduated from Cantonsville High School, a teacher told his parents he would never be able to do anything with his hands and that he should be kept away from machinery.

Kenny's parents got angry when their son could not get job interviews, because they knew how capable he was.

So, they decided to create an opportunity for Kenny: They would help him buy his own business -- the Candy Box.

That was 18 years ago.

According to a story in Wednesday's Baltimore Sun, Kenny has learned to manage nearly every aspect of the candy store business: He runs the cash register, counts the money, orders supplies, wraps the candies, makes snowballs, cleans the machinery, takes out the trash, mixes syrup flavors, answers the phone and remembers everything his parents can't about their customers - names, favorite candies, even children's birthdays.

He has also hired other people with disabilities to work with him.


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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.