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Emma's family turned her challenges into her dream job.

Emma’s Master Shredder business is taking off in Queensland. 

When Jo Lynam’s daughter Emma was born, she was diagnosed with down syndrome, a mild form of autism, hearing loss and a cleft palate. And although Emma has struggled with cognitive challenges with speech, reading and writing, her mum came up with a solution to help find Emma a meaningful job that would make her feel a part of the community.

It was when Jo was greeted by a young girl with down syndrome whose mother had passed away when she was working for the Justice Department that she realised that she needed to prepare Emma for the possibility of life without her.

emma and jo
Emma and Jo. Image via Vimeo.
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“It made me realise that when I finished work that day, I was going home to my daughter,” Jo told the ABC. “And that I needed to think way ahead and plan for her life way beyond my death.”

“What I strive for is for Emma to be like any other 21 year old, stand alone on her own two feet and earn her own living,” she said. “When she was at school, they used to sometimes take them to the office and do office skills, and Em wasn’t interested in anything except using the shredding machine.”

Jo set out to turn Emma’s passion for shredding into a career opportunity, sending hundreds of letters to businesses across Queensland to try to find a place for Emma to work and to help her feel a part of the community.

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The only person that responded to Jo’s request was Steve Scholefield of the Queensland Credit Union, who said Emma was the “perfect candidate” to fulfil his office’s shredding needs.

Emma – a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan – was quickly dubbed the “Master Shredder” and her family have turned the nickname into a business that now boasts four clients across Townsville.

Not only have the Lynam’s been able to turn Emma’s passion for shredding into a business opportunity, but they have also seen Emma flourish in her new role.

Jo says that it is incredibly gratifying to be able to see her daughter excited about going to work and making a difference in her life.

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