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Alumni collaborate on disability awareness

Alumni collaborate on disability awareness

Funding given to proposal with "a Commonwealth-wide approach"

Image above: Pakistan Sports Visitors, taken from Pakistan to Lakeshore Photo Slideshow on Vimeo

Queen’s Young Leaders are great at pooling their resources and talents to develop new projects. So the Legacy Panel has started awarding funding for some – the very first being an online platform to support people with disabilities around the Commonwealth.

Jordan Kerr – Legacy Liaison Officer on the Legacy Panel – describes it as still being in “the testing phase”. He’s referring to the process behind one of the Panel’s key objectives for 2017, to elect recipients of funding “based on sustainability and scale of impact”.

Set up by Queen’s Young Leaders early in 2016, the Legacy Panel works with alumni to help them stay connected beyond the life of the programme. In early 2017, the Panel set itself some key objectives, including electing projects within the network of Queen’s Young Leaders to receive funds.

Funding for network projects

Now the first network project has won funding, selected by a judging panel in February 2017.

The successful project was proposed by Angelique Pouponneau, Kartik Sawhney and Yasseen Edoo – all disability rights activists as well as Queen’s Young Leaders.

Their idea is to set up a website to promote disability awareness and support around the Commonwealth. Called Commonwealth Leading Links, it was described by judges as having “real potential and real benefits.” 

But there will be more opportunities to win funding through the Legacy Panel.

“The full programme will launch at the end of this month, or early next month,” says Jordan, adding that many applications fell down because they did not meet the minimum guidelines. But, he adds, “Feedback, support and training will take place in the lead up to the next round.”

Commonwealth Leading Links

Commonwealth Leading Links, will be an online platform with three clear objectives:

  1. providing information on service providers such as sign language interpreters, or good employers who are known to have inclusive recruitment policies, so that people with disabilities can access them more easily
  2. publishing inspiring stories about people with disabilities succeeding in the workplace and their communities
  3. and raising awareness in wider society.

Angelique explains the thinking behind Commonwealth Leading Links.  

“There are many stories of persons with disabilities having low aspirations and expectations,” she says, “but by showcasing role models – both in the workplace and the community – these will serve to inspire and motivate.” Users will also be able to network and “have a type of mentor-mentee relationship should they choose,” says Angelique.

Angelique Pouponneau

Angelique Pouponneau. Image credit: Queen's Young Leaders Programme

These stories will also help to raise awareness in wider society. “It's all about changing perceptions – especially by employers and other members of the society,” Angelique explains. “We want to disable the barriers that exists in the minds of people by sharing those stories with them.”

The proposal is supported by several Queen's Young Leaders including Ivory Duncan and Jonathan Andrews. Between the applicants and their supporters, there is an abundance of resources, contacts, experience and potential reach.

For example, Angelique is currently Vice-chairperson for inclusion and engagement at the Commonwealth Youth Council. Yaaseen, Ivory and Kartik belong to both Young Voices by Leonard Cheshire and UNICEF’s Youth Council.

A Commonwealth-wide approach

“The application was selected as it provided a commonwealth-wide approach,” says Jordan, “and the applicants were able to articulate what their project would do and who would do it.”

There were eight judges – five from the Legacy Panel and three from the Queen’s Young Leaders Advisory Panel. They concluded that it was a “good idea to focus on disabled population”.

“I definitely see it going to several Commonwealth countries through the project leads,” said one.

Another described the plans as "well thought out and expressed”.

Angelique says that winning the funding is enabling “something that's novel and beneficial to a community that is often overlooked. I am happy to be part of that”.

Jordan Kerr

“The full programme will launch at the end of this month, or early next month,” says Jordan, adding that many applications fell down because they did not meet the minimum guidelines.

“Feedback, support and training will take place in the lead up to the next round.”