16th April 2020; Updated Sep 20, 2020
- Enabling equitable access to online education,
- Helping turn crisis into development opportunities &
- Promoting active fitness – physically & mentally!
- Providing remote work opportunities to students with disabilities!
(Sept 2020 Update)
I’m inspired to see all of your commitment to our mission even during this pandemic. I enjoy the active conversations around what this means for us and our users. I’ve also gotten the feedback on the need for more leadership communication with the team.
First off, we’re all in this together – so we’re committed to answer any questions you may have, soak in any ideas, launch new initiatives & also keep you informed about any decisions for our operations & team.
What does this pandemic mean for our users and how are we interacting with them? And what are we doing now to help our users?
Here’s what I know: The global lockdown impacts all of us. Staying at home, for the last 1 month, has pushed me to find new ways to stay physically and mentally fit. This “fitness” is very much required if we are to make it through these tough times while preserving our optimism, and taking opportunities to become more resilient.
I know that as a job and life skills training provider, ARISE Impact is essential to our users’ sense of well-being, confidence and personal growth. Tears come up in my eyes whenever I see a student speaking confidently. My chest puffs with pride whenever I hear a trainer’s sense of accomplishment in impacting students’ confidence... The very nature of our training is to help our users become resilient and confident.
How are we interacting with our students:
We are finishing existing coursework in-line with the Universities’ policies around their coursework. This is to enable learning continuity for our users. This is essential because we don’t want to stop learning just because we cannot interact physically. For a student with visual disability, learning happens via audio and Zoom calls as alternatives to in-person workshops.
At the same time, we also understand that continuing with courses may not be for every student. So, we have gone a step beyond to give students the flexibility of time for the completion of our courses (take our courses slower) and the flexibility to opt-out completely. We understand that some students may have to take care of themselves & their families and that’s okay.
For now, our operating model is to continue delivering learning to the best of our abilities as long as the University courses are continuing. If the student is interested, we must fulfill our duty to provide them with equal access to online learning. They have the same rights to have accessible education just like you & I have. We must continue doing our part and support them sustain their learning momentum.
We know our courses result in increased confidence, better communication & self-advocacy skills. We will continue supporting students in their personal development. We can help ensure that they are not left behind. Never by us.
Additional steps are we taking given the COVID-19 pandemic
We are increasing access to our courses to a greater number of PwD students. We are expanding from 1 college to 4. We will continue on this path and if you know any PwD who wants to learn from home – please do connect them with us. We are providing students with disabilities the access to the online education that they deserve (aka exercise for the brain!).
We are experimenting with how we can conduct workshops online and on calls. We not only want to share content and resources but also want them to have experiential learning.
Tomorrow (Friday, April 17), we are hosting a webinar on COVID-19 for PwD – on what it means and how PwD can protect themselves. I’ve tapped into my network to find an expert , an accomplished PGI doctor to specifically share awareness on the impact of COVID 19 on PwD - and the best practices for them to stay safe. We are making efforts to help our students stay physically fit and aware
We will continue outreach with employers who have hired PwD in the past. Right now, we know that folks have more time on their calendars and can be more generous with sharing insights… as we continue to build employer relationships.
We will continue to hunt for or learn about pockets of employment opportunities for our students with disabilities, so that we can innovate on our offerings & be ready with skilled talent when employers want to hire,be that during the crisis or after the crisis. When we find any opportunity for our graduating students in 2020, we will help them with interview preparation and even with their on-the-job support! (Please direct ideas & suggestions to me.)
We are also spreading awareness on vulnerability of PwD in times of pandemic through our social media.
(Sept 2020 Update): We are also providing remote internship opportunities to our students with disabilities. This helps them to gain professional remote work experience. We’ve created 3 internships this summer.
I hope that this provides you with actions being taken by the ARISE Impact team – which are all very inspiring to me, given our crisis. We want to do our part in helping PwD stay physically and mentally fit and turn this crisis into their very own development opportunity.
If you have any further questions, I am here. You’re already giving so much – you’ve shown up in such incredible ways for our beneficiaries and for each other. As we ask you now to push forward, please know that we do so for the continued strength of our team and our mission.
Founder, ARISE Impact
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Staying Mentally Fit for PwD during COVID-19:
Transform your thinking for wellness and self-care as a Person with a Disability during COVID-19