Appendix 1: Early in my career I spent a lot of my time training clients in the special population category at retirement communities and I got to know the physical therapists and occupational therapists who were contracted through those facilities. As my relationship with them grew, I was able to gain their trust in working with their patient’s post-rehabilitation, which is where my interest and business in training clients with special needs began.
After receiving approval from my clients to use their photos and videos as promotional materials, I began to share their individual journeys to better health through social media, blogging, writing articles, and on websites. I also spent time volunteering with Special Olympics organizations helping train coaches on proper warm-ups, leading warm-ups for 5Ks, and interacting with parents and clients through those events. I sent proposals of my training services to local day service providers in my area with references and photos of my previous work to begin to expand my business. I contracted hourly training rates with multiple independent service providers in our area several days a week. Those who wanted more training contacted me directly and paid me privately through their own funds.
I also participated in local Facebook and Instagram support groups for people with Down syndrome and other special needs, getting to know the families and needs of those in my community. Through word-of-mouth, social media sharing and advocating, and building personal relationships with those around my community, I have been able to build a sustainable business that continues to grow. Finding hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and networking with disabled athletes, wounded warriors, people with spinal cord injuries, and advocacy groups has also been beneficial to my business in learning more, and to increase networking among professionals as a referral service.