Fundació Catalana Síndrome de Down Abertis and the Abertis Foundation for their achievements in workplace integration

Abertis and its Foundation have garnered the accolade for their work in furthering the social and workplace integration of young people with Down's Syndrome and other disabilities in recent years. 

The Catalan Down's Syndrome Foundation has recognised Abertis and the Abertis Foundation for their ongoing commitment to furthering the workplace integration of people with disabilities. There are currently thirty people with disabilities working for the Group in Spain at its Barcelona and Madrid offices and on various social action projects established by the Abertis Foundation.

The award ceremony was attended by the regional minister of Interior, Jordi Jané, who in charge of closing the event; the Chairman of Abertis and of the Abertis Foundation, Salvador Alemany; the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Catalan Down's Syndrome Foundation, Montserrat Trueta; and the Director of Institutional Relations and CSR of Abertis and Director of the Abertis Foundation, Sergi Loughney.

Salvador Alemany, who received the award from Raúl Martínez, one of the Group's Roadside Assistants, expressed his pride at receiving this accolade, which serves as recognition for the values of a company which “strives to ensure that accessibility and the integration of people with other abilities are taken into account in all that it does”, thereby strengthening its commitment to Social Responsibility.

Montserrat Trueta thanked Abertis and the Abertis Foundation for their trust in the skills of people with an intellectual disability and commitment to workplace integration. There are currently 25 people with a disability working on the various projects established as a result of the collaboration between the Catalan Down's Syndrome Foundation, Abertis and the Abertis Foundation. Montserrat Trueta also expressed her desire to see an ever-increasing number of companies with disabled people on their workforces and discovering what they have to offer.

The ceremony also included the presentation of the 2015 Abertis Foundation Report. In a groundbreaking move, this edition was prepared with the active assistance of Sergio Carreras, a young man with Down's Syndrome who works at Abertis' offices in Barcelona, in “an innovative initiative aimed at combining social action values across all areas of the Group," said Sergi Loughney.

Abertis and the Abertis Foundation and the Catalan Down's Syndrome Foundation have been working together since 2011, when two people with disabilities began working at Abertis' headquarters in Barcelona, where their duties included receiving and dealing with visitors and other administrative tasks.

Work also began on the establishment of various projects that combine social action and road safety, two of the Abertis Group's Corporate Social Responsibility priorities.

The first initiative in 2011 was the Roadside Assistant project, which encompasses road safety, education and social action through the workplace integration of people with Down's Syndrome. Under this scheme, young people with a disability work as Roadside Assistants, observing, analysing and registering the behaviour of parents, children and adolescents as they arrive at and leave school, both on foot and in vehicles.  The Assistant then explains what he or she has seen in classes, identifying correct and incorrect forms of behaviour. Children and young people are more receptive to the feedback from the Assistant, who they have got to know as they arrive at and leave school each day. Many recognise their own behaviour in the conduct described, incorporate the suggestions into their daily conduct and communicate the feedback to their parents. The Roadside Assistant scheme is currently in operation at four schools in Barcelona and three in Madrid.

Next to be launched, in 2014, was the Older People's Assistant programme. Under this scheme, young people with a disability help older people with mobility problems to attend the senior citizens centre in Barcelona's Trinitat Vella district. This is an initiative that benefits everyone involved. The young people providing assistance boost their self-esteem and develop a greater sense of responsibility while the older people are helped to overcome isolation, socialise more and take part in the activities on offer at the neighbourhood centre.

In 2015 the Kango! project was rolled out to encourage children to become more independent and improve mobility while at the same time increasing peace of mind for parents and promoting the use of public transport to reach school. The children taking part have an ID card with an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, which they must swipe when they board buses and arrive at school. A KanGo! Assistant from the Catalan Down's Syndrome Foundation is on hand at each of the designated bus stops to ensure that all children do so. At present, there are 12 schools and over 100 children in Barcelona taking part in the initiative.