Conclusion of Google TechAbility

It is hard to believe that I was chosen for the Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme back in November 2012, just what I needed to retrieve guidance on where my career should lies or go.

The Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme has been an intensive and require a commitment from both people to work together to get the most out of the Google’s experience. I feel that I’ve exceeded that with Stephany Van Willigenburg. We were clear and passionate about getting the best out of each other.

It was a learning experience for both us as I gained a greater insight to how Google operates and what they can do and help clients and Stephany found herself learning about assistive technologies. (You never stop learning……………!)

Personally, I would like to thanks EmployAbility and Clare Bass, EMEA Diversity and Inclusion @ Google for making this happen and for opening me up to such a trustworthy contact to have.

Now, I feel proud to be classed as part of Google TechAbility Mentoring Programme Alumni. The rewards and hard work have paid off by celebrating my achievements. However, for me there is still more to come!

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P=f (AMO) – Ability, Motivation, Opportunities

Individual performance is a function of ability, motivation and opportunity or, alternatively, P= f (AMO) (Boxall and Purcell 2003).

This article is centered around ‘P=f (AMO) – Ability, Motivation, Opportunities’ and it has prompted me to share the backdrop to how I’ve come across this formula.

It is nearly five months ago when I won one of the eight categories in the national Adult Learner of the Year Award from the Scottish Learning Partnership and as part of the award you had to undertake a module or further studies of your choice. I opted to study a foundation module in Fundamentals in Human Resources Management (HRM) as this has appealed to me for many reasons.

Matt Moir of the University’s Lifelong Learning Academy, nominated me for this award this year (2012). Throughout my time at UWS and especially my connection with Lifelong Learning Academy, Matt made my learning process at UWS worthwhile after having experienced problems previously at UWS. His warm personality and attitude was instant during the guidance process. If I had a query or problems, I was able to approach Matt in confidence. Still to this very day we have maintained in contact and have good mutual collaboration around my University studies and beyond.

I have truly embraced this learning opportunity of erudition about Fundamentals in Human Resources Management (HRM) as I can apply the theories today’s employment situations in relation to equal opportunities and diversity.

One seminar lecture became evident and apparent as it was about HRM and the Individual and came across this formula ‘P=f (AMO) – Ability, Motivation, Opportunities’. I thought love that as I now realize why some individuals who possess these attribute of Ability, Motivation, Opportunities (AMO). To master all these three performance indicators takes a lot of self belief to apply yourself to any situations then remain motivated at all times and thereafter seize the opportunities that come with it.

However, I also realized to the implement Ability, Motivation, Opportunities (AMO) strategy with team members, employees or whoever that maybe is the responsibility of a leader, manager and line of management to ensure the strategy is effective for the individual’s motivation and the formula is designed to maximise individual contribution in the project, workplace or any situations, therefore an element of leadership is required too.

In my case of applying ‘Ability, Motivation, Opportunities (AMO)’ in relation to the Adult Learner Award has demonstrated that I am able to explore my learning in a different area, a degree of motivation to remains persistence in my continuing personal development (CPD) and have taken the opportunity to discover a new learning spectrum in Human Resources Management (HRM). This module will be completed by December and I can’t wait to have the fundamentals background of Human Resources Management.

I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to Matt Moir who nominated for the Adult Learner of the Year Award this year as I have clinched an opportunity to further my knowledge in a different area at foundation level.

Disabled People VS Online Forums

From my disability connections, I was approached by MRUK, who are a research company. Firstly, Scotrail has asked them to conduct online focus groups with respondents who travel by rail and have mobility or disability issues. Capability Scotland pointed out that online focus groups are often not fully accessible and face to face can be better, but MRUK have said that they have previously conducted face to face focus groups so this time are just looking at conducting online groups.

Due to one of my many areas of interests, is with accessibility with assistive technologies, I decided to share my thoughts on learning experiences after taking part in the MRUK research.

A question to ask yourself: is web-based forums in danger of replacing real interactions with people?

It is clear that web based technologies is on the rise and they all have their benefits to everyone and those who have disabilities. When it came this forum which I clearly enjoyed very much and transport accessibility is a major issues for some disabled people especially with the revamp of Queens Street for the Commonwealth Games, I was keen to ask the question how does Scotrail plans to cope with disruption to passengers safety without even mentioning disabled passengers too. Do they also plan to embed assistive technologies in and around the station?

During my recent trip to London last week, I was introduced to a new useful contact who is the Head of Disability and Inclusion of Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) was keen to gets my views on public transports i.e. why do like the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) in comparison to not using Scotrail much. It was merely down to accessibility issues. If more assistive technologies on the trains and at station that may assists me better.

Anyway, back to the topic agenda about online learning experiences, I feel there is necessary place for e-learning and online forums as participation process as it encourages people with disabilities to come forward and from what I gathered from the online forum’s experience more disabled people feel comfortable being upfront online forum rather than voicing publicly in open-spaces. (I know all too well – doing and delivering presentations is a daunting experience for anyone). Overall, MRUK were excellent and more forums research should be conducted this way as long as these research companies continue to meet the accessibility needs of participants through various means of technologies then this will go a long way in terms of time and cost-saving issues for everyone involved. We are inevitable going to see more web-focused programme being delivered all types of education sectors as it is their best response to slashed budgets and other factors. My generation are responding to social media and using the web as their study and to keep in touch with their peers.

The balance on the otherhand need to be strike with real interaction with people as that equally important or we risk becoming too dependent on remote learning on the web!

INAUGURAL WILDERNESS WEEKEND SUCCESS

On behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland:

An innovative new outdoors project that introduces disabled people to woodlands and green space has taken its first six participants to Arran to take part in an inaugural ‘Wilderness Weekend’.

This project is to encourage more people with disabilities to access woodlands and green space and is part of Forestry Commission Scotland’s widerCentral Scotland engagement strategy.

Delivered in partnership by Forestry Commission Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland they have worked with Scottish adventuress Julie McElroy to develop the Wilderness Weekend, which saw the group taking part in a range of outdoor activities.

Participants, aged between 20-74 years old, got involved in a series of pursuits including arts and crafts and woodland walks. They also explored how people lived on and off the land and learned how to light fires from sparks, gather food and build a shelter.

Hugh McNish from Forestry Commission Scotland said: “As an organisation we believe in encouraging everyone to access woodlands and
experience the outdoors. “Current evidence shows that disabled people do not access the outdoors as frequently as able-bodied people. We want to tackle this and encourage more people with disabilities to access their local woodlands.

“By running unique weekends such as this, we are actively helping to remove any obstacles for disabled people to enjoy the outdoors and benefit from the experience too.”

A keen adventurer, Julie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was a child and is eager to help more people with disabilities experience the advantages of the outdoors.  She added:  “I have always had a love of the outdoors and I was really passionate about getting this project off the ground. It has been a real challenge, but finally being able to get participants across to Arran to take part is a great feeling.

“This course is designed to enhance the confidence of the participants and also increase their personal development, by allowing them the chance to take part in a series of tasks and adventures that they haven’t before.”

Notes to news editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scotti Government’s forestry directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
  2. The National Trust for Scotland is one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, which relies on the financial support of its members to funds its important work of caring for the natural and cultural heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy. The Trust cares for a range of sites on Arran, including Brodick Castle and Country Park and Goatfell.

                                

Challenging Your Perception of Leadership

Julie is now becoming renowned for her leadership expertise. A far cry from a few years, she felt lost on where to take her vision of leadership forward into the future. However, thanks to RADAR (Royal Association for Disability Rights) who have nurture Julie’s leadership expertise and thus Julie has now become the forefront of sharing her leadership experience and embedding her skills into many other areas.

Recently, Julie was asked to share her vision of leadership with the Wilderness Foundation UK who were keen to gets her opinions on ‘What Leadership means to her?’ and how she manages to unleash the potentials in other individuals and the projects she been involved to date. Julie believes there are key attributes required to be a good leader and they comprises of: confidence, vision, passion, motivation and organisation.

Julie also realizes as part of leadership it also comes with self-empowerment. This empowerment enables you to achieve or overcome difficulties as she says there are solutions to each one whether it may be making a change in tactics, different strategies to draw on. In order to fulfil your potential, you have to have the motivation, passion and the focus to succeed. She was beginning to handle a lot in a short space of time in her years of growing up and felt competent to share and inspire other i.e. putting her skills and life experiences into practice and embedding them into new situations. From there onwards, the empowerment to try new things and change people perception of someone like myself who has a disability thus in turn can be respected citizen, self responsibility and leader which come with confidence.

When working with people whether they are disabled or able bodies, learn to see what they can do rather than doing it for them or avoiding it. It naturally for people to focus on what disabled can’t do however, we need to adopt in a change in attitude on focusing on what disabled can do as I find there are things that I would like to do but it is looking at the picture/situation as a whole and implementing a strategy to coping and participating in mainstream activities.

More recently on one of her projects, she was involved in putting her judgement forward for the participants to be selected from the Disabilities Wilderness Project. We had a good response of applicants and it was interesting reading their desire to take part in the project. As one of the project’s leaders, you want to select people who are going gain skills that will give them the confidence to progress or use the experience to do other activities when they go home.  It is all about understanding other people’s strengths and weaknesses and what they will bring to the team.

Julie was the first disabled person to have secured the Sirius Environmental Leadership. In her application form, there were many highlights that secured her place and for Wilderness Foundation UK it was about meaningful inclusion knowing how to make this programme accessible for the like of Julie to fulfil her potential. Julie says ‘We need to reinforce participative approach as this will enables organisations like Wilderness Foundation UK to excel in confidence which will grow and in turn will allows them to improve inclusivity and diversity practices. The ending results will pays off!

Throughout the years, it has been motivation and more recently self leadership skills that had helped Julie possess the qualities of leadership.

The Concepts of Learning – Parelli

Life is strange when so many things occur that lets us go our separate ways in life however our connections with riding, the threads remains.
Judith Wright my former riding instructor approached me to come down to Greenarces Riding School and participate in a session about Parelli. Unknown to me, I thought this would be interesting and worthwhile going to see what it was all about.

To gives you an overview of my connection with Judith and riding itself. I started riding with the Riding for Disabled Association in Glasgow at the tender age five and progress with knowledge and ability to learn to ride and lead a horse without assistance. Judith was my first helper on my
first day at riding and I had a black horse called Smokey whom I accustomed to very quickly. Throughout my fifteen years with RDA (Riding for Disabled Association), I had lots of different horses, Harry who was Palomino; Solo was a grey; Harry and Solo were my favorite horses as they were fast and energetic, just like me!

Judith was one of the best helper we had for our class, not only the same personality of fun, laughter and spontaneous characteristic we both had.
It was Judith’s passion, devotion and welfare about horses in all direction that allowed me to become a rider in my own right.  During my ten years with Judith’s presence at the Riding for Disabled Association at Sandyflat, Judith quickly rode to the challenge and asserting leadership positions at the RDA from being a helper to our class’s instructor.

When Judith became our class instructor, she was aiming high with me and a few fellow capable riders, teaching us to canter, show-jumping, trotting – you name it everything that Judith knew, she wanted us to excel to our very best!! Judith was a hard foot-step to follow when she
relocated to Irvine.

After sixteen years at Riding for Disabled Association at Sandyflat, I decided to hang up my gears and pursue other interests not to forget my transition to University was a factor at the time.

Upon a visit to Greenarces Riding School in Irvine to see Judith but more importantly to learn about Parelli. What is Parelli? It focuses on teaching the human rather than training the horse if that makes sense?

Learning comprises of many concepts and it appears Parelli breaks the detailed knowledge into finer and simpler knowledge. It also gets the rider to think how the horse is likely to approach each task with the rider. The Parelli programme helps potential riders understand the psychology, personality and nature of horses. It becomes the basis for a deep, seamless and mutually beneficial human-horse relationship. Is that just fascinating?

Perhaps on this particular week during my riding days, I had a horse called ‘Tommy’, he was Brown horse; very big and slow. I knew instantly that I had my works cut out with him, getting him to walk, trot – it was getting frustrating. Therefore, I am now contemplating to whether having had Parelli session would have taught me the knowledge of the psychology behind ‘Tommy’ and given me the necessary skills and knowledge to acquire to get ‘Tommy’ to walk, trots, rather than gets frustrated with him. Only Judith could stand and look killing herself with laughter as I do my utmost to move ‘Tommy’!!
(Judith and I had a good friendship which was clear to see.)

Having taken part in the new relationship-based approach “Natural Horsemanship” which is now recognized worldwide as an innovative and effective method of natural horse training, I would ethos that Parelli is roll-out to those who have a combination for physical and learning disabilities. I believed embedding this programme to that category of physical and learning disabilities as some riders in my class weren’t adept to riding independently. Whereby having classes of Parelli will give all riders a good grounding about horses and what you can achieve with horses from psychological aspects and what would be expected when you get to ride a horse.

People learn by different methods, but I believe those who learning disabilities and complex needs should have an equal opportunity to learn and find routes to progression in any vocational skills and horse riding is one of them. It is a sport that allows human to become good friend with their horse.

The Parelli concepts could assists disabled people to nurture their confidence therefore, horsemanship skills training will help with developing confidence building and in turn it will stimulate trust with their horse before transferring the practical work in riding.
The Parelli is coherent path that should be introduce to enable those riding a horse have a good understanding at all levels.


Now I perhaps wonder why my horse wouldn’t do as it was told when I was riding. I just assumed he was having one of those days that didn’t want me to ride him. Now I know it is the key to understanding the psychology and the nature of your horse that will foster your relationship into becoming a good rider.

For further information on Parelli visit: www.parelliconnect.com

Personal Development Planning (PDP)

More and more nowadays, everyone is having to become an effective self organiser, learners and self-managers with the development of a wide range of skills and attributes that link to long term Personal Development Planning (PDP).

Due to the increasing diversity of people, society in general, businesses and education are responding accordingly in order to adapt to economic and current trends. This is to ensure and determine that a suitable route is properly directed so career paths are pursued that would ultimately maximise potential in development. This in turn, would put the nation both domestically and internationally at an advantage. This would enable to endeavour to take the necessary steps forward to keep one step ahead of consumer requirements so that needs are both met and satisfied and future business is continued.

I have been interviewed regarding an interesting topic about ‘How to keep motivated’ I believe the skills required for this are self learning, responsibility, accountability and leadership. Embedding skills in the learning becomes an integral part of the personal development process.

Professional development refers to skills and knowledge attained for both personal and professional development. This encompasses all types of facilitated learning opportunities, ranging from college degrees to formal coursework, conferences and informal learning opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including consultation, coaching, and communities of practice, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision and technical assistance.

It is essential to build upon concurrent experience to grow and foster your personal and professional development. Another factor that drives professional and personal development is constructive alignment. Today, we have a duty to be inclusive, encourage deeper and wider approaches to become self organizer, learner and self manager.