Young Woman With Down Syndrome Starts Business Shredding Classified Documents

| by Sean Kelly

A 21-year-old woman with Down syndrome rose above her challenges and launched a document shredding business.

Emma Lynam, from Queensland, Australia, was born with Down syndrome, a mild form of autism, hearing loss, and a cleft palette. As a result of these obstacles, Lynam isn’t able to read or write. 

That didn’t stop her, however, from finding her calling and pursuing it. She set up a business where she shreds classified documents for several clients, including solicitors and a credit union.

“When she was at school, they used to sometimes take them to the office and do office skills,” Lynam’s mother, Jo, said. “And Emma wasn't interested in anything except using the shredding machine. 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."

After the two set up the business, called Master Shredder, they contacted hundreds of businesses that would benefit from the young woman’s unique skill. Soon, they heard back from Queensland Credit Union’s Steve Scholefield. 

“Her enthusiasm for shredding and the fact that she couldn’t read made her the perfect candidate for something we also had a need for, which is to have someone do our shredding,” he said. “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.”

Lynam’s mother said her daughter’s business has changed her in a positive way.

“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,” she said. “It's nice to see her knowing the routine wanting to go to work."

Source: Metro, 6 ABC / Photo credit: