What's Up Wednesday

Unlocking potential with the Kilmarnock Academy

Kilmarnock Enterprises believes in a world that values diversity. It is changing attitudes towards disability through education, employment, and opportunity. It has just launched a campaign that is going full throttle on its social mission of empowering people with disabilities to lead purposeful and dignified lives: the Kilmarnock Academy.

People with an intellectual disability will come out the other side of the Academy with NZQA qualifications, empowering them to find purposeful employment and a valued place in the community. Want to know more? We did too, so read on!

Why do you think this campaign is important?

We know that a lot of people with disabilities are not getting the same opportunities for education and employment as others. A lot of disabled people are leaving school with no option for further education that will suit their style of learning.

Through our campaign, we are opening up the opportunity for us – and our community – to cut to the root of this problem. We take a hands-on practical approach to helping our students develop work readiness and gain NZQA qualifications.

We ran a pilot of this programme and were so blown away by its success that we had to do more. We realised that we have a unique environment that sets us, and our students, up for success. At the start, a lot of our employees felt failed by the education system and didn’t want to get involved. It was amazing and humbling to see those very people go through the programme and come out the other side buzzing.

What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?

We have spent the last three years putting a lot of energy into engaging with our community. This has included working to brand what and who we are in connection with our crowd and gathering support and feedback along the way. We recently built a new Basecamp which in itself happened entirely with the support of our crowd.

We have taken courage from all this support to create an opportunity for our supporters to get involved. We have had so many people telling us they really want to back us. We really value this, but it hasn’t been the right time to take up those offers as we have been focused on using our commercial arm to leverage social impact. Now, the time is right to give our crowd a chance to build something meaningful with us.

What do you have planned for the rest of the campaign – anything for us to look forward to?

We have a few awesome rewards! We have flights to Fiji up for grabs. Every single person who pledges over $50 and shares on social media with the tag #kilmarnockacademy goes into the draw to win return flights to Fiji for two.

We also have a ‘Wonderful Wine Lucky Dip’ reward for people who love good, South Island wine. A Black Estate 2014 Pinot Noir, anyone?!

Anything you would like to shout out to your crowd?

We would love you to join us in building up Kilmarnock Academy! We are genuinely making a difference to people’s lives by taking them through an education programme that works for them. By pledging to this campaign you are directly changing someone’s life. You are giving them the opportunity and confidence to lift up their lives in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

Success breeds success, and this is exactly what we have seen in our pilot. We had one lady who was practically ready to run in the opposite direction when we suggested she be part of our second cohort. School had failed her, and she didn’t want to go through a similar experience. We managed to get her onboard. Now, halfway through her NZQA Level One she is already saying she wants to go for Level Two.

So many of these wonderful people have been told all their life they can’t. By pledging, you are showing them that they can.

Show the Kilmarnock community that they can by pledging to the campaign here.

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