Powerful People: A conversation with Silvia Planas-Prats
Everyone has an idea of what it means to be Powerful. For Silvia Planas Prats, it is turning disABILITIES into job skills- and, why not- possibilities. Read along to discover what makes Prats a Powerful Person. Find out how she manages to challenge socially established norms- where people with disabilities have a hard time finding their place in the professional world- to offer the possibility of turning these disabilities into valuable working skills.
Moved by the need to seek opportunities for her autistic son, Prats left behind an executive position at DuPont, Barcelona, and moved with her family to Miami to become the founder and CEO of Miami Is Kind- an organization that employs people with autism and other disabilities to create gourmet baked goods. Today, Miami is Kind is a thriving business, providing valuable opportunities to countless people.
Now, that’s Powerful. And empowering. This is why Silvia Planas-Prats is a Powerful Person. Read along to find out how she turns disabilities into endless possibilities.
Two of Powerful’s mottos are: “Defy the odds,” and “Prove them wrong.” How was your experience challenging socially established beliefs to turn disABILITIES into job skills?
By creating a bakery that employs young adults with Autism—Miami Is Kind—the lives of more than 30 individuals in South Florida, and their families, have been transformed. It’s been a wonderful experience that can’t be put into words. It’s an absolute joy to be part of the discovery process of each baker’s ABILITIES and job skills. After all, we all need an opportunity to shine, right?
For three years, Miami Is Kind has proved that our employees, with Autism, have—indeed—job skills and ABILITIES. All our bakers and packers with Autism run our bakery, producing Gourmet Artisan Macaroons that are sold in the most prestigious stores in the USA.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since founding Miami is Kind? What has been your biggest challenge?
The most valuable lesson learned is that, regardless of the fact—now proven by Miami Is Kind—that people with Autism are productive contributors of our society, the process to remove “DIS” from disABILITIES, to see abilities, is not an easy task. We have learned that it is a personal choice we must consciously make—and a rather courageous one.
One of the most challenging things in life is attempting to change a person’s attitudes and believes. These are part of the unconscious, and they determine how we perceive reality. Our mission at Miami Is Kind is changing mindsets—one person at a time. Oftentimes, we tell our community: “Buy our products, and those of the companies that support us.” After all, your purchasing power is a huge tool you have handy to begin to change the world. One of Miami Is Kind’s motto is “You buy, we employ, it’s simple, it’s kind.”
From your perspective, what values or qualities should people embody nowadays to be powerful and successful?
For me, in order to be powerful and successful you must be kind first. When you are kind, you are patient; you listen, and are open to learn from others; you see what others can see; you show respect to others; you slow down, allowing yourself to be mindful. Kindness can change personal misconceptions; it can remove stigmas, so you perceive the reality with your own eyes. Kindness kicks off an unstoppable process of empowerment. Life is like a boomerang: if you project kindness, you’ll receive kindness—and that will, undoubtedly, make us all feel happy and successful.
Being powerful lies within the little acts of kindness that are capable of changing the world. Being powerful means making sure everyone has an opportunity to thrive, regardless of some disabilities some of us might have.
What were the main reasons that lead Miami is Kind to partner up with Powerful? What values do they share
For Miami Is Kind, to partner up with Powerful was a great opportunity to offer more working hours to our bakers and packers. Miami is Kind producing Powerful products is just another example that proves that young adults with autism are, indeed, talented individuals. More so, Powerful promotes Miami is Kind’s message—to put autism to work—to larger audiences. The faster people in the US learn about this fact, the faster the US will begin to evolve to become a more inclusive country.
A value that unites us to Powerful is the belief that being powerful—and empowered—does not come without effort and hard work. For example, Powerful has wonderful products that can make you healthier and stronger ONLY if you work out. The unstoppable empowerment process only begins with the investment of effort and hard work.
Similarly, at Miami is Kind we are eager to provide job opportunities to young adults with Autism and other dis/ABILITIES ONLY if they are willing to work hard.
How can people get involved with Miami is Kind, and what are the best ways to help?
At our website www.miamiiskind.org you can make a donation, subscribe to a monthly assortment of macaroons, buy our products, order our trays for events. Our craft pillows and boxes are a perfect holidays gift for corporations that want to demonstrate they practice social responsibility. We also need volunteers throughout Florida so you can use the “contact us” section to offer yourself as a volunteer.