Jenna Rathgeber, Woman With Down Syndrome, Goes Viral in Photo at Her Hair Salon Job


After buying her own hair salon — The Sanctuary Hair and Beauty in Victoria, Australia — Nikita Morvell realized she was going to need more help than originally anticipated. So Morvell called her sister, Jenna Rathgeber, and asked if she wanted a job. Rathgeber, 28, who was born with Down syndrome, was more than happy to help, picking up Thursday, Friday and Saturday shifts.

In the eight weeks that Rathgeber has been working at the salon, photos of her hard at work have gone viral – highlighting that people with Down syndrome can find fulfilling employment and excel at their jobs.

Morvell’s Facebook post reads:

Welcoming the newest staff member to the team!!
Jenna is my oldest sister.
Jenna has Down syndrome but no matter what she has so much determination and enthusiasm!
Jenna loves to help out and will brighten up anyone’s day.
Today Jen washed, dried and straighten Katrinas hair. Thank you so much to Katrina for being a fabulous client and well done Jen. Super proud of how you went.
So lucky to have you apart of the team Jen!

According to Rathgeber, her responsibilities around the salon include washing clients’ hair, sweeping, hair drying, hair straightening, cleaning color bowls, making teas and coffees, setting up clients and general cleaning. Soon, Morvell said, she will be teaching Rathgeber to color hair.

When asked if she likes working at the salon, Rathgeber told the Mighty, “ Yes I love it. I don’t have a favorite, I love everything.”

Morvell, 24, loves working with her sister too. “Jen brightens up the salon with her laugh and smile,” she said. “Jen is an absolutely joy to be around and works harder than anyone I have ever worked with! All my beautiful clients say hi to Jenna before even saying hi to me. They absolutely love her! Jen makes my job so much easier!”

Now that she’s had the opportunity to work with her sister, Morvell wants to encourage more businesses to hire people with Down syndrome. “The determination and work ethics are incredible,” Morvell told The Mighty. “Down syndrome isn’t a disability, it’s an ability! Don’t discriminate.”

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