Woman who can't read or write finds calling shredding documents

Meet Emma, a 21-year-old woman with Down syndrome who can't read or write but still helps to run a successful paper shredding company. (ABC Open North Queensland)

Emma Lynam, a 21-year-old with Down syndrome, can't read or write, but she's found a way to become independent with an unlikely calling: starting her own shredding company.

Lynam was born with Down syndrome and also has autism, hearing loss and a cleft palate. None of that slows down the young Australian woman at her job. Emma helps run a company called Master Shredder where she shreds documents for four clients including solicitors and a credit union, according to ABC Open North Queensland.

"When she was at school, they used to sometimes take them to the office and do office skills. And Emma wasn't interested in anything except using the shredding machine," said Emma's mother Jo, who helped her set up the business. Jo said that the creative idea was to make sure that Emma would be able to independently support herself.

"I needed to think way ahead and plan for her life way beyond my death," Jo said. "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."

Steve Scholefield, one of Emma's first clients, said Emma's enthusiasm made her "the perfect candidate" to fill the company's shredding needs.

"Jo was making a very heartfelt point that she needed to find a way for Emma to have a place in the community and make a difference," Scholefield said.

The business has changed Emma's life for the better, Jo said.

"To see her now actually saying hello to people, sharing little stories about herself on the iPad and getting so excited about it...it's lovely to see," the mom said. "It's nice to see her knowing the routine wanting to go to work."
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