BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The Children’s Museum of South Dakota is now welcoming back visitors to its indoor exhibits.

It’s also a special week at the Brookings attraction for one of its employees. Sarah Ayres applied for a job at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota last year.

That plan fell through when the pandemic caused the museum to close before her interview. But that all turned around when the museum reached out to her this year, asking if she was still interested in the job.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be really fun,” Children’s Museum of SD Play Guide Sarah Ayres said.

Tuesday was Sarah’s first day on the job. She’ll work 15-20 hours a week.

“Sarah brings such a bubbly, happy energy to the staff. On days that Sarah’s working it really feels like everybody’s in a better mood those days,” Children’s Museum of SD Guest Experience Manager Charles Stuart said.

The 23-year-old Brookings woman has down syndrome.

“People have to realize that the population of people with disabilities is a very good and valuable work pool. There are a lot of very capable people that want to work, do a good job,” Sarah’s Dad Larry Ayres said.

Her family is proud of her and excited about her latest opportunity.

“Everyone wants a purpose in life. Everybody wants to work and be a part of something,” Career Advantage Employment Specialist Kris Bishop said.

Sarah is a familiar face at the museum. Over the years she’s volunteered more than 830 hours and she worked here for a time through a program called Project Skills.

Volk: Your dad told me this is your dream job. Is that true?

Sarah Ayres: Yeah.

Now she gets to live her dream.

Sarah worked for Aramark at SDSU before the pandemic hit. Several programs and resources in the community have helped Sarah in her employment journey.