TOGETHER WE CAN!

I Can! was delighted when Omnia invited its sponsored learners to participate in the company annual Health and Wellness Day, celebrated 10 October 2013.  The event with its 200 employees featured goodie bags and loads of freebies. Preparations for the learners included designing promotional posters, baking cupcakes, making beaded bracelets and set up of two vending carts with smoothie stations.

Omnia arranged for a bus to transport all 40 learners to and from the Kempton Park academy to the client site, along with all the goods for the big day. Everyone was given a T-shirt with the Omnia and I Can! logos and the slogan ‘Together We Can!”.  Small learner groups made strawberry and banana smoothies, served coffee and tea,  and distributed  bracelets, popcorn and cupcakes to promote the ‘wellness’ of the Omnia employees.

Later, the ‘fitness’ of staff and learners was tested in a tough workout session. Only few powered through.  The learners then displayed their own version of ‘health and wellness’, in the form of a rhythmic dance.

A video and photos can be seen on the I Can! facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/icanlearnerships

On behalf of all of the I Can! staff and Omnia learners, we would like to extend our thanks for a thoroughly enjoyed Omnia Wellness Day.

INTERNSHIP AT ADCORP

I am a woman living with a physical disability. On 22 March 1996, I had an operation on my leg and was told that I have chronic osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone, a rare but serious condition. That was very hard to understand. Everything changed; it was like my leg took away all my freedom. I could not go to school for two years and had to stop playing netball, which was very difficult to sit and watch people play. After a few years I learned to accept my disability and love myself again with the determination that I can do anything I want. I stopped looking at my disability and rather focused on the abilities in my life.  Writing soon replaced the love of netball and I now sit and write about my life and the challenges people with disabilities face in South Africa. I express these through poems, short stories and drama. Disability can happen to anyone and any time.

After completing my matric I did a Secretarial Personal Assistant and Bookkeep and Accounts course at Integrity College and now have a Diploma. After completing my studies with Integrity I looked for a job but I could not find one. Then I applied for a learnership with Bytes Technology in Midrand and received a NQF Level three National Certificate in End-user computing. VW South Africa offered me another learnership and received a NQF level three certificate in Business Admin. The work experience I gained during these learnerships included:

Filing Clerk with BYTES SYSTEM INTERGRATION for 9 months

Receptionist with AUDI CENTRE REVONIA for 6 months

Business Administration with MEDIPOST PHARMACY for a 1 year.

A friend of mine told me about I Can! and then researched them on the internet. I phoned and was transferred to Desiree Mthanti who helped me to be where I am today. She told me to fax my CV and decided to personally drop it off and meet her in person. When she looked at my CV she said, “Don’t worry I will help you”. After few weeks Desiree phoned me to come to PMI/I Can! for an interview. She told me that the interview is with ADCORP SHARED SERVICES CENTER in Bryanston, but I must come to PMI/I Can! and their driver will take me to the ADCORP offices for the interview. Lorna Potgieter interviewed me and told me how the company operates. The interview went well, and a month later Desiree phoned to tell me that I will start 1st of June 2013.

My first day at work was very was welcoming. Currently, I am working with Anton who also has a disability. He is my trainer on the switchboard. I enjoy working with him, he knows the company well and I am learning a lot from him. Working with someone who also had a disability, like me, has really helped. Currently I report to Lorna, she is been good to me ever since my interview. She is a woman, a mother, a manager, a PA to Mr Kobus Pieneer (CIO of the company) and a role model.  I want to thank Lorna for being so patient and understanding and seeing my potential to give me a chance.

WORKPLACE EXPERIENCE AT PHARMA NATURA

In 2013 one of our clients, Capacity Outsourcing, began a new pilot program for a group of our intellectually disabled learners that had completed the Domestic Services learnership on ABET Literacy 1.  Capacity  has over the last 3 years sponsored 40 plus learners with a disability on a learnership.

We have identified a massive need for our learners with an intellectual disability to do ABET and asked Capacity to partner with us to pilot the first group.  Capacity  then took it one step further and approached one of their clients, Pharma Natura, to provide our ABET learners with the valuable work-place experience that they require.

Pharma Natura agreed to allow our learners onto their site.  The learners attended classes twice a week and worked at Pharma Natura twice a week.  The learners rotated among several workstations including the kitchen, admin department and the production line.  Prior to the learners starting at Pharma Natura, I Can! ran complementary Sensitisation Workshops with its line managers.

This project has been a huge success.  Not only did the learners do extremely well in their ABET exam, but they flourished with the opportunity to gain workplace experience.  The feedback from the Pharma Natura managers was how “capable” the learners were! Pharma Natura have expressed interest in employing some of the learners!

Thank you to Pharma Natura and Capacity Outsourcing for providing our learners with this wonderful opportunity!

If you would like to participate in this program, either by sponsoring ABET for persons with disabilities or providing our learners with workplace experience, please contact Ali Smeeton on 0846050821.

NO TWO BRAINS WORK ALIKE

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to pay attention to children and adults with learning disabilities. During this month, I Can! asks that you teach one person something new about learning disabilities.

Here are some facts from the National Centre for Learning Disabilities:

The most common type of LD is dyslexia (reading problems). Other types of LD include dysgraphia (writing problems) and dyscalculia (math problems). Other conditions such as dyspraxia (motor skills) and ADHD (trouble regulating attention) often co-occur with LD.

Although the exact causes of LD are not clear, it is known that LD sometimes runs in families and that events during fetal development can also play a role. Despite many misconceptions, there is no evidence that vaccinations, diet or watching too much television cause LD.

Learning disabilities are life long and cannot be cured or outgrown.  Dyslexia is not a vision problem that can be corrected with eyewear; it is a problem of language processing in the brain.

With intervention and support, people with LD can succeed in school, work and life. There is no correlation between LD and low IQ. In fact, by definition, people with LD  can have average or above average intelligence. Accomplished individuals with LD include TV and movie star Whoopi Goldberg,  Virgin Airline and Virgin Records owner Richard Branson and South African contemporary artist Ian Marley.

INTERVIEW WITH NTHABISENG MANYISA

Nthabiseng has a physical disability who has abnormality in both hands (hands being deformed), she often needs assistance from her parents and friends with regards to eating and writing as both hands are not functioning.  She also has difficulties of movement in the tongue whilst talking.  Nthabiseng is a hard working learner and she always puts in her best effort in everything that she does.  Completing the Hygiene and cleaning learnership is a priority for her, she indicated that she will achieve this goal by maintaining focus on the bigger picture which is getting more knowledge and being equipped for the future.

Nthabiseng indicated that she enjoys the learning experience that has been offered to her by I Can! She said that she is very determined to completing the entire learning process including the practical’s that she will need to do for the learnership, although the distance to the training venue offers a challenge to her as she quickly gets tired of walking.  Nthabiseng said that she is prepared to go through the challenge to better her life.  She also indicated that her determination has been inspired by her cousin who is a hard working person.

The one thing that Nthabiseng enjoys about the learning experience is working on the lap-top.

Although she is physically disabled Nthabiseng mentioned that she is coping just fine with her disability as is it nothing but normal to her.  She indicated that there is nothing that will get in her way of achieving what she wants in life.  She also said that she is going to enjoy herself while she is at it.

Her future aspirations are to own her own internet cafe’ one day, her own house and a car.

DIFFERENT IS BEAUTIFUL

The I Can! Sensitization Workshop features a quiz matching famous people to various disabilities. The exercise is designed to change perceptions about people with disabilities and to see the ‘ability’ in ‘disability.’ Achieving success requires perseverance but is not without its charm.

Refilwe Modiselle, a South African model and entertainer born in Rockville, Soweto, grew up with Albinism. She was taunted and mocked about her appearance.  But despite the odds, she was determined to become a fashion model.  She faced rejection because of the color of her skin color and was told that the South Africa was not ready for an Albino model. She worked diligently, determined to change people’s mind-set.  She is now the face of South African fashion brand LEGiT, a leading SA clothing brand.

You can see her on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8zp_YWfXZE (Preview)

Another famous African model living with Albinism is the 24 year old Thando Hopa.  She is also a Public Prosecutor. She has said the biggest misconception about Albinism is that persons with this condition are incapable of coping in the real world, especially in the workplace. She believes that schools and employers do not assist in providing facilities that aid certain inadequacies such as eyesight problems.  These attitudes result in diminishing a person’s potential, she added.

September is designated National Albinism Month by the Department of Health. Living with albinism is an ongoing challenge against prejudice, myths and misconceptions.

The medical definition of Albinism is: An inherited condition where a person is unable to produce normal colouring of the skin, hair and eyes. Albinism is caused by defects in the hereditary material that determines skin colour. People who have normal pigmentation could be carriers of the hereditary material that is defective for skin colour. Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects and lack of skin pigmentation makes for more susceptibility to sunburn and skin cancers.

The theme for National Albinism Month this year is ‘Social Equity, a tool towards development and Social Cohesion on Albinism.’

The Albinism Society of South Africa (ASSA) event calendar includes door to door campaigns and road shows in order to reach as many communities as possible, both to educate as well as to change stereotypes, myths, mind-set and cultural beliefs that hinder and pose a threat to human kind and the life of people with albinism in society and in our communities.

CLEANER TO FACILITATOR

Nomaxabiso Kungwayo completed her matric in 2006 and furthered her studies to complete a certificate in financial management at MSC College. She enjoys accounting and achieved marks that were top of her class. When she finished her matric, her teacher asked her to tutor other classes when she had to attend meetings. Nomaxabiso acquired perseverance working with the learners and enjoyed transferring knowledge.

Because she was unemployed for a long period of time, Nomaxabiso assumed the role as cleaner for the I Can! Academy. However her dedication and passion for the learners was not overlooked and I Can offered her the opportunity to train as a facilitator by taking part in classes.

She performed so well, facilitation became a calling for Nomaxabiso.  The students enjoyed having her in the class and as a result she was promoted to Life Skills facilitator.

Nomaxabiso welcomed the opportunity offered by I Can! and will do her best to help educate these young adults. She would also like to thank the I Can! staff for treating her with respect when she was a cleaner. This made her further her interests by expanding within I Can! We are glad to have someone as nurturing and who is passionate about the pupils.

HEARING IMPAIRED ARTISAN DEVELOPMENT

People with disabilities are often overlooked as working in the manufacturing/engineering environment as companies presume they will not have the ability to perform at the same level as an able bodied person would. In the past we have shown that disabled employees can in fact out-perform non-disabled employees at various jobs or tasks for example, counting, queue management and archiving.

The Hearing Impaired Artisan Development Project was a pilot project aimed to investigate the possibility of a disabled persons working in the manufacturing/engineering environment as a skilled tradesperson as well insight into some of the challenges experienced by both learners and facilitators.

The workshop was conducted at PMI technical Training in Jet Park during the last week of August 2013. This facility is a state of the art accredited technical training centre that specializes in Artisan Development for the Engineering and Mining sector.

The group of learners consisted of ten hearing impaired youths between the ages 20 and 24 of which half were females and half males. All candidates had completed a business practices learnership through I Can! within the last few months. They were also accompanied by a female sign language interpreter. The learners were left in the capable hands of seasoned Boilermaker instructor Lafras Muller, a 30-year veteran trainer and ETDP (Education and Training Development Practitioner) and Electrical Instructor Patrick Weitz.

The learners were exposed to two different trades;  Plater/Welder(Boilermaking) and Electrical.  After undergoing a general safety induction the learners immediately got started. The facilitators had pulled unit standards from the full qualification and adapted them for the purposed of this intervention. Each exercise had a theoretical as well as a practical component. This was done to ensure that the learners were comfortably familiar and worked safely with the equipment.

This intervention can definitely be seen as a counseling setting in that it addresses key issues and biases which may often create a divide within the work context. It looks at the assumptions people make about each other and how we are often mistaken in our assumptions. 

Key problem areas were identified that can be used as building blocks for future interventions.   Suggestions from the facilitators to be considered:

  • When in the workplace these learners will need to be paired with mentors that can communicate in sign language, alternatively instructions will need to be given by means of writing them down.
  • Developing a qualification that is more practically based would suit these learners better.
  • With regard to Artisan learnerships for these learners, one will first have to up skill one person with a hearing impairment as a qualified trainer (minimum of 4 years) who can then facilitate training for Deaf groups.
  • Alternatively current trainers need to be taught sign language which may be much quicker than training up a hearing impaired trainer.

What was most interesting was the impact this session had on the facilitators. By the last day they had already learned different ways of communicating with the learners instead of only working through the interpreter.

This report  is very valuable to the I Can! team in order to assess the validity of this exercise as well as to determine the possibility of developing these learners in the engineering field.

NEWS FROM THE ACADEMY

On September 6, I Can! participated in National Casual Day. Also known as Loslit Dag the day, held annually, tries to build greater awareness of people with disabilities. The celebration also gives everyone a chance to dress differently according to a common theme.

The funds generated (R10 per person) are given various charities who do amazing work to empower people with disabilities in South Africa. This year’s theme was ‘Go Big’ and the learners and staff all demonstrated their spirit by showing up to work wearing big hair, enormous glasses or unusually large ties. It takes being different to make a difference and on this occasion, reminding us to be mindful of those with disabilities.

On September 7, the I Can! Cape Town team and their children were treated to a family day at Bugz Play Park. The event was arranged to build team spirit and was a huge success. The staff and children were treated to breakfast and an opportunity to talk and get to know each other on a more personal level. The kids had fun enjoying all the activities and rides in Bugz Play Park.

Everybody also had lunch and received gifts such as educational books donated by Leserskring.

Congratulations to I Can! for the nice things you do for your staff to make everyone feel part of our amazing family!

On Heritage Day, September 14, Jet Park celebrated different African cultures and showcased all our unique different food types. This year for the first time, our clients were invited to the celebration which started with breakfast, included a presentation, and then lunch. The menu consisted of ginger beer, mqomboti, nting pap, spinach, chicken feet, phutu pap and amasi, boebotie, and dumplings and of course there was braai vors! The learners played traditional games focused their respective attires.

Our deaf learners presented the “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN SIGN?” South African Sign Language Song Translation Competition  as part of Deaf Awareness Month. The kids translated the song HERO by Mariah Carey.

The video can be seen at  http://youtu.be/34yA01ccR4g

Congratulations to Moses: Moses Malatji (middle in image above), a Business Practice learner based at  Kempton Park Academy, had been drafted for the senior national team that will participate in the Paralympics in Rio Brazil. He has already earned a number of athletic achievements:

Junior level 1 (swimming)

Two trophies at young starts completion in Cape town (2006)

2008 he participated in Hollard, Spain

2009 he was awarded Ekurhuleni  sports man of the year

2009 he received a best achievement award

2013 he qualified for the 2016 Paralympics

Look what the Operations Managers have been up to

On the 4th September 2014 the Operations Managers gathered on the I Can! Hebron Nguni Farm near Howick, as part of a team building initiative. Gumboots were pulled on, sunscreen applied and with a determination to be commended, assisted agricultural learners to put up our first vegetable tunnel on the farm.

The event was coordinated by our colleagues from Angel Projects (take a look at their website: www@angelprojects.co.za) who patiently taught us which pole to attach and how to hang the netting correctly.

The soil for the vegetables had been previously prepared by firstly ripping the dry ground, using a tractor and then irrigating this area in preparation for our spades and forks. Compost from the farm’s fertile compost heap (recycled organic matter from the farm) was used to add nutrients into the soil. Although most of us found the work to be physically demanding, we all took turns with the shovel and before long the ground was ready!

The vegetable tunnels are 10m X 4m in size and are manufactured from galvanized steel pipes and shade cloth. Luckily you don’t need a degree in engineering; a few 10mm spanners and a hefty sense of humour did the trick!

A big variety of vegetables can be grown in a tunnel. The tunnel is big enough for a thousand spinach plants and 700 cabbage plants. We chose to plant mainly nutritious spinach plants, as this vegetable will be cared for and eventually eaten by the skills program learners who assisted us.

Did you know?

Only 10 (ten) percent of the water used in an open garden are used in the tunnel. The turnover out of the tunnel is approx. 8 (eight) times more than that of an open garden. The lifespan of the tunnel is 7-8 years.

At the end of this very hot day we returned to our homes in our various provinces tired, but with a feeling that we had achieved something very special that will continue to give the gift of food to the needy for a long time to come.

Thank you to I Can! for sponsoring this wonderful event and thank you to Angel Projects for the brilliant team building initiative.

Rowan Robinson
Special Projects Manager