Teen with Down syndrome makes big impact at part-time job

A Highland Park high school student is making an impact at his part-time job.

Nick Jones' task is to make sure every car on his dealership's lot is perfect, and his work is making a bigger impression than he may realize.

One thing that sets 18-year-old Nick apart from many is how happy he is to go to work.

Nick also has Down syndrome and sometimes struggles with words. Otherwise, he's just one of the guys at Park Cities Ford in Dallas.

"This is a big step for Nick to have this opportunity and experience being a contributing member in his community," said his mom, Katie Jones.

For the past year, the Highland Park senior has worked Monday through Friday after school, checking for unlocked doors.

The best part is that it's his dream job, working near his dream car – the Ford Mustang.

He gets excited every time he sees one.

His mother says things haven't been easy for Nick.

"Back in the day, as they say and thinking he didn't have much of a future because that's what you're told," said Katie. "That's what the doctors tell you. That's what everyone around you tells you."

The personal growth goes both ways.

"We see Nick as part of the team," said Jeff Enright with Park Cities Ford. "…Every day, he does it with a smile and with good energy.

It isn't about charity. Park Cities ford says it sees business value in Nick's work ethic and encourages other businesses to be open minded.

Nick's responsibilities have grown along the way. Now, he requires little, if any, supervision, and his work is in high demand.

The dealership would like to hire him Saturdays, too, but Nick's not sure. He loves his job, but he also likes a bit of golf on Saturdays.

"Nicky's proved everyone wrong," said Katie. "He continues to do that every day.

Sometimes he proves me wrong, and I'm his mom."

The latest employment report shows 627,000 working-age Texans have cognitive disabilities, ranging from Down syndrome and autism to less severe conditions like attention deficit disorder.

Seventy-five percent of people in Texas with cognitive disabilities are not employed – a number Nick's family would like to see decrease.

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