Tele­vi­sion Fiona Rae

Awards that started out as a way of show­cas­ing dis­abled Ki­wis’ em­ploy­a­bil­ity have be­come a global on­line hit.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - By en­ter­tain­ment ed­i­tor FIONA RAE

Nowhere else in the world has any­thing like the At­ti­tude Awards 2018 (TVNZ 1, Sun­day, 11.00am), the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the achieve­ments of Ki­wis liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

That’s ac­cord­ing to At­ti­tude CEO Robyn Scott-Vin­cent any­way. In­ter­na­tional view­ing goes gang­busters on­line, and “the Cana­di­ans have bought us be­fore”, she says. “It’s like, why would they be in­ter­ested? But there’s no cel­e­bra­tion that we know of any­where else.”

This is the awards’ 11th year and, from the get-go, Scott-Vin­cent wanted it to be a fancy black-tie event.

“When we be­gan, some­one said we should do it as a nice lit­tle af­ter­noon tea. But we said, ‘Why does ev­ery­thing for dis­abil­i­ties have to be some­how low grade?’ So we said, ‘No, it’s go­ing to be fab­u­lous,’ and it has been.” A decade later, how­ever, the awards come with great ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Peo­ple ex­pect us to up the ante ev­ery year. It’s pretty funny. One year we said, ‘Right, we’re go­ing to have a mo­bil­ity dog carry the en­velopes onto the stage,’ and an­other year we had a pa­rade of chil­dren.”

But the awards have se­ri­ous in­tent. They not only recog­nise Ki­wis liv­ing with dis­abil­ity, but also em­ploy­ers who sup­port and in­te­grate them. This year, the Em­ployer Award fi­nal­ists in­clude a Whanganui hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and Grey­mouth’s BP ser­vice sta­tion.

“Em­ploy­ment was the main rea­son we started the awards,” says Scott-Vin­cent. “Em­ploy­ers have a per­cep­tion that peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are some­how not ca­pa­ble. So the more we could show­case high lev­els of achieve­ment, the more that would help to cre­ate a cul­ture where it would be nat­u­ral that peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties should be in em­ploy­ment.

“All an em­ployer has to do is shift their think­ing no more than 10 de­grees.”

Tal­ent will out, how­ever, and dif­fer­ently abled Ki­wis

are achiev­ing de­spite the odds. Fi­nal­ists in the At­ti­tude Lead­er­ship Award in­clude Alex Sned­den, a dis­abil­ity ad­vo­cate who at­tended the World Down Syn­drome Congress in Scot­land this year, and autis­tic man Wil­liam Luskie, who ad­vises a num­ber of agen­cies in Dunedin.

Young deaf fash­ion de­signer Cruze Kapa is a fi­nal­ist in the At­ti­tude En­tre­pre­neur Award, along with can­dle-maker Emma Sykes and ed­u­ca­tional video-game de­signer Tim Young.

“Ev­ery year we’re amazed that the nom­i­na­tion process un­cov­ers new peo­ple,” says Scott-Vin­cent. “You for­get that if one mil­lion Ki­wis have a dis­abil­ity, there are amaz­ing sto­ries out there.”

At­ti­tude Awards2018, Sun­day.

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