Written by Julia Hartshorne, Founder of Achieve 2B and 2015 Alumna
Achieve 2B is an inspiring intercultural programme for young people with disabilities, facilitating national and international exchanges. In today’s climate, there is an absence of intercultural exchange programs that cater to the needs of young disabled people. This creates further inequalities for these young people. What makes Achieve 2B distinctively different is that it works with national/international partners, governmental agencies and disability service providers to provide support that enables students to participate and achieve.
In 1988/89 at age 17 with Mild Cerebral Palsy, I did the unthinkable and completed a one-year AFS Exchange Program to the USA. This positive experience provided the blue print for my life. During my career path as a Social Worker, I quickly developed a passion for working with people with disabilities. It appeared that young people with disabilities do not go on Intercultural Exchange Programs. Therefore, the Achieve 2B was born out of my unrelenting desire to ensure that young people with disabilities have opportunities equal to that of their peers.
From this transformational experience, our students gain self-confidence, self-mastery and independence to become our future leaders, professionals and mentors. The intention is for these young people to experience life in another school, community and family. In the future, Achieve 2B will replicate itself nationally and internationally. Nationally, Achieve 2B will have regional offices in Whangarei, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. A partnership has already been established in Australia and further partnerships will be developed with the USA and the UK.
In our pilot year (2017) we planned for one student to go on an international exchange. Instead, we have already had three young people engaged in our programme. This included one international student to Australia and two regional students between Auckland and Whangarei. One regional exchange included an AUT Scholarship, compliments of the Business School. Students were able to take their disability support packages with them.
As a Leadership NZ Alumna, I am able to reflect how the Programme not only helped me to define my understanding of leadership and came to appreciate the holism of leadership but was instrumental in forming the foundations of Achieve 2B.
I instantly became aware of the transparent values of Leadership NZ: whanau, aroha and manakitanga. This has empowered me to ensure that the values of aroha, manakitanga, diversity and inclusiveness are embedded and experienced by all Achieve 2B's participants.
Orientation is required as part of the programme and provides students with the skills, tools and knowledge to cope with the challenges inherent in being an ambassador. Modelled on and inspired by Leadership NZ retreats which give an opportunity for in-depth and creative exploration, the orientation programme will also include intensive retreats at different locations throughout Auckland and Northland. As does Leadership NZ retreats, these sessions will also include guest speakers on key subjects, break out workshops, a Marae Noho and a visit to Waitangi.
Achieve 2B are now looking to roll out their full programme in 2018. To take Achieve 2B to the next level they now need to grow their whanau. They are searching for meaningful partnerships with corporates and businesses interested in making in kind donations, who are interested in making the Achieve 2B story, their story. If you would like to be a part of their journey please contact them on 0800 2238 22 or via email.