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Innovation awards!


We have developed free leadership courses and resources for families and community leaders

Family leadership

We identify emerging leaders and support them to grow their leadership potential. We have trained 70 family leaders. Long term follow up on their activities and outcomes shows that they grow their voice, share their disability expertise and found family-led organisations, lead transformative projects and build community. Our article describes the “transformational Collective Benefit Mindset”, an experience that prompted parents raising children with disability to launch and sustain a peer network (Janson et al, 2018). This parent group (Families Empowering Families) was created following the launch of our Now and Next training. This group is still active in creating new learning, sharing opportunities for families and providing direct input into the services they receive.

Vulnerability can happen in many different contexts - disability is one of them. Parents of disabled children face a series of challenges that compound. Families have told us that as a result of the confidentiality that binds professionals in the field, they are often unaware that many others are facing similar issues. This results in added stress and isolation. In 2013 some of us ran a family leadership development programme to explore the ways in which family voices could be shared and heard.

Online free resources

Families share their experiences to inspire each other into action and benefit from each other's experiences. Te Whanau Kotahi's parents leadership development programme collates and distributes these important experiences so that parents can get inspired 24/7! URL for this playlist starting with the Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/TWKtrailer URL for the playlist alone: http://tinyurl.com/TWK-Parents-Interviews

'Circles of support' or 'intentional networks' 

These are proven tools to help families achieve better results for their differently-able member. Bridget describes below her family's experience in helping her son strive for a good life:

A professional in the disability field and the mother of a young man whom she helped successfully plan and live the life he wants for himself, Bridget explains how the initial family vision was implemented via a circle of support first consisting of adults and support professionals. As her son grew up, however, the process was handed over to her son who now leads his own circle of support.

What was important to Alex was that his circle of support would be made up from his age group - and this indeed helps integrating him amongst his peers. The meaning of parenthood changes as our children mature of course, but Bridget emphasises that it is now that you need to ask yourself "Is life good enough for my son/daughter"? because as governments change policies and implementation of even the best ideas take time, there are a host of things that can be done without waiting to enhance our quality of life at all levels. She remarks "we must not feel hostages to government plans" - we can act right now!

Free family leadership course

Families leading social change - Successful training completed!

==== update: this course is now full ============

Course Description

This course provides:
  • Historical milestones of the disability sector 
  • Knowledge about person-centered planning tools 
  • Practical tools to develop potential in people with high and complex needs 
  • Implementation of ideas for daily lives 
  • Leadership building blocks to step into this space 
How do families create social change? This course documents a New Zealand initiative where three families with disabled children have joined efforts to launch a new initiative addressing the difficulty to find great staff to support people with high and complex needs. To bypass the difficulties created by a traditional hiring and training process, the families will come together for 5 consecutive weekends to meet with a pool of potential candidates. Families will engage directly with you in this collaborative training. We will work in team building activities that will provide you with the knowledge needed to decide about your future direction - and meet potential future employers. 

Together we will develop leadership to address core community issues and marginalisation of disabled people. 

Learning Objectives
  • Understand the wider context of the disability sector in New Zealand
  • Inspire disabled people and their families to plan for a great life
  • Work alongside families who lead social change
  • Lead practical changes through daily support with these families
Curriculum Sample

Community Leadership

How can we build stronger, more resilient communities? By developing leaders to transform and energise the people around them! This includes building capacity to integrate different perspectives and embrace diversity - as well as enrolling those who have traditionally felt excluded! Our community leadership online learning - free at: https://www.udemy.com/course/virtualrolemodelsA course loved by over 6000 online students!

See the intro clip below:



Our projects have already reached over 30,000 learners. We are supported by the NZ UN Convention for Human Rights, UNESCO, The Todd and Tindall Foundations in our work with over 50 organisations.

We aim to empower marginalised people and their families develop goals which will strengthen their identity as well as develop self-confidence. We can all aim for careers that we are passionate about and gain recognition whilst making the social impact we target.

Watch audio-visual stories told by empowered community leaders as well as people who have been disenfranchised such as disabled people and their families or refugees and migrants who successfully overcame challenges and engaged on their leadership pathway. They collaborated with us to develop these learning units used by community leaders, educators, parents, support workers and students. In order to empower our communities, we need to encourage collaboration between education, community and social care,

Who is this course for?
  • Current community leaders who want to explore new community integration trends
  • Future community leaders who can follow their passion
  • People marginalised through disability, health, migration or other circumstances
  • Educators looking for novel and exciting ways to teach via storytelling
  • Professionals in the fields of social care, psychology, community development and policy
Please note, the below is only a screenshot... the clickable version is at: https://www.udemy.com/course/virtualrolemodels

Perma link to this page: http://tinyurl.com/vulnerablefamilie