Breadcrumbs

Be. Confident proves a game-changer

Be. ConfidentAccessibility isn't always about the built environment. Organizational culture and customer service is also a key aspect of accessibility. So our Be. Confident workshops are all about culture. The goal for us here is to assist you and your team to discover the wonderful opportunities that come from understanding, planning and catering for the needs of all your customers.


In 2017, our partners Cogo Consulting conducted an independent survey about accessibility in New Zealand. We found out that 47% of access citizens see warm and welcoming customer service is a key enabler to participating in activities, second only to an accessible physical environment. A Be. Confident is a two-hour interactive and tailor-made workshop run by our skilled coaches. We support organisational teams to explore their understanding of accessibility, and build confidence in delivering across the social, environmental, economic, and cultural opportunities in embracing accessibility.

Phillipa Gimmillaro, Director of Talent & Culture at Sudima Hotels says the impact of these workshops have been a huge value to her nationwide team. "Our relationship with Be. Accessible is one we really value and the Be. Confident training reinforces our culture of diversity and inclusion. The sessions enable our team to really think about obstacles and barriers guests and colleagues face and consider how we can work together to offer a truly inclusive service and workplace."

Terri Green, Site Supervisor at Auckland Breast Centre highly recommends it! "Do it! As well as opening everyone’s eyes, it's a good team builder. It's made what we already have as a positive environment even more positive, making people feel comfortable looking after people. Everyone is on the same page it has made us feel proud."

Minnie’s Study Tour Part 2: Design and Innovation in London

Minnie in front of a building in London Minnie meeting with the Design Council

Minnie continued her global study tour in London, where she had the pleasure of meeting some global thought leaders in the design and innovation space. It was one of those moments when the stars aligned, everything fell into place and connections made to last a lifetime.

She started by meeting with Nesta, an organization that invests in global social change initiatives. There she met with Inclusive Economy Lead and fellow New Zealander Kate Sutton, because Kiwis abroad always manage to find each other! The notion of an 'inclusive economy' aligns perfectly with Be.'s vision and entire reason for being. This places Be on the international stage as a social change agency that can influence global impact.

Minnie then met with the Design Council, an independent charity and the UK government’s advisor on design, whose purpose is to make life better by design. Their focus for 2018 has been about inclusive design specifically, which is perfect for the direction Be is taking. "Our vision is a world where the role and value of design is recognized as a fundamental creator of value, enabling happier, healthier and safer lives for all”.

She sat with Lead Cities Advisor Victoria Lee and Programme Manager Emma Dickson and discussed the importance of accessible design and how accessible design can impact on the lives of the 1 billion people with access needs around the world.

Emma is currently managing 'Transform Ageing', a programme that is developing "people-centered solutions that better support the needs and aspirations of ageing communities". Victoria Lee works "closely and collaboratively with local authorities, property developers, design teams and consultants to address complex design issues in masterplanning, tall buildings, infrastructure, mixed use housing, public realm, sustainability and inclusion".

Minnie said, "for me, these meetings were about building a global network of people in organisations that are committed to advancing inclusive design in the 21st century."

She ended her London adventures at the "Without Walls: Disability and Innovation in Building Design" exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. How beautiful is that timing!

Pep Talk a success for the fourth year running

Pep TalkThis month our partner Capability Group hosted our Be. Employed interns for their unique 2-day 'PepTalk' Programme. It was a dynamic session, with thought-provoking conversation about young people's role within the workforce, and how to best utilize our skills.


Capability Group noticed across their corporate clients that many graduates don't have the requisite skills or capabilities to get up to speed on the job quickly. On the other side, they also heard from graduates that they struggle to get their first 'real' job due to their lack of work experience or skills.

PepTalk was an initiative launched by Capability Group to address the 'preparedness gap' of young people transitioning between tertiary study and the world of work. The programme provides insightful tips and techniques to effectively manage the transition from study to work, while providing the skills recruiting managers expect from new graduates. This is the fourth year they have run this programme exclusively for Be. Employed students.

The facilitator and students discussed different communication styles, developing your strengths, finding your skills, understanding career missions, positive mindsets, how to give and receive feedback, finding your networks, positive framings, and building a brand.

Here is what one of our participants had to say about their time on PepTalk: "What really stuck with me was the communication styles we learnt about. I feel like it’ll be so helpful no matter what job I end up with in the future! Also learning about how to ‘brand' yourself and ‘sell’ yourself and your skills to get a job is something that I really struggle with, but now feel so much more confident in my ability to get and keep a job!”actile, like maps. There was even a tactile version of Botticelli’s Venus Rising. Some of the main paintings had a tactile version that you can feel."

After three days of exploring, Minnie went to Tuscany to be part of the Warriors for the Human Spirit Leadership Retreat run by Margaret Wheatley. Staying at Abbey di Spineto built in 1085, more than 60 global leaders explored and committed to deepening their practice as guardians of 21st Century global leadership, building a community of practice, based on gentleness, decency, and bravery.

"We are confronted by the changing nature of the world we're living in right now, and acknowledging the collapse of systems we’re seeing ecologically, socially and economically. What form does leadership need to take at this particular time in our civilization? It was an invitation to be confronted by reality, and developing a community of leadership that is worldwide to navigate this collectively."

"I would hope that this helps, in both my professional and my personal life, to give me more tools and space to keep working on my leadership."

This set to tone for what became a three-week tour of discovery, possibility, and curiosity!

Minnie’s Study Tour Part 1: History, culture and leadership in Italy

Tactile version of the Birth of Venus

Minnie recently embarked on a worldwide study tour. She started in beautiful Italy, where she stretched her curiosity around leadership and experienced possibility in action for the accessible tourism industry.

On arrival, Minnie connected with Livia Del Monaco, who runs Moveris, an accessible tourism agency in Italy. Moveris specialises in tours for people with access needs - each tour is individualised to the traveler's specific needs, providing the perfect experience and allowing them to get the most out of their time. Like Be. Accessible did in NZ, Livia recognized that there was a need in Italy to provide tours for travelers with access needs. Her approach to access tourism is a beautiful example of accessibility in action - what a wonderful opportunity for Be. Accessible to connect with a company that had this vision built into its core. Together Minnie and Livia discussed global access tourism whilst exploring Florence, and its incredible history and culture.

"The idea of the accessible tourism [company] was born from the desire to give all people the opportunity to enjoy art, landscape and food in Florence", says Livia.

"The headquarters is in Florence but our scope is the entire Italian peninsula. We'll study the perfect solution in order to meet your requests and needs. All our services are really tailor-made. There are no ready-made packages or solutions. Your Italian experience will be solely yours."

Minnie describes Livia as her "guardian angel".

"Not only did she take me through the sites of Florence, she has developed this passion for accessible tourism. It was so lovely to be met with someone who understood what I needed. She did great work at helping me orientate to my hotel, and find my lunch and dinner. She talked me through the layout of the city so I could go out and find my way around"

"In Florence there are certain things have been made tactile, like maps. There was even a tactile version of Botticelli’s Venus Rising. Some of the main paintings had a tactile version that you can feel."

After three days of exploring, Minnie went to Tuscany to be part of the Warriors for the Human Spirit Leadership Retreat run by Margaret Wheatley. Staying at Abbey di Spineto built in 1085, more than 60 global leaders explored and committed to deepening their practice as guardians of 21st Century global leadership, building a community of practice, based on gentleness, decency, and bravery.

"We are confronted by the changing nature of the world we’re living in right now, and acknowledging the collapse of systems we’re seeing ecologically, socially and economically. What form does leadership need to take at this particular time in our civilization? It was an invitation to be confronted by reality, and developing a community of leadership that is worldwide to navigate this collectively."

"I would hope that this helps, in both my professional and my personal life, to give me more tools and space to keep working on my leadership."

This set to tone for what became a three-week tour of discovery, possibility, and curiosity!

Minnie goes ziplining in Queenstown

Minnie ziplining in Queenstown Minnie ziplining in Queenstown

30 years ago, I was an active teenager who loved the outdoors and sport! I played tennis, ran long distance for my high school, played competitive hockey, basketball, badminton, sailed, learnt ballet from the age of 4 to 12 years old, and road my bike every day to school and to visit my friends in Palmerston North.

At the age of 15 I was then diagnosed with a rare sight condition called Stargardts which meant that I would never be able to drive a car, read standard print in books, see signs and would have very poor detail and depth perception.

Most of my physical sport and outdoor activity very quickly dropped away, in part because most coaches were not sure how to include a partially blind pupil and in part because I lost confidence in my abilities and did not want to be a burden on others.

In mid-March all of that was completely turned around! I had the great privilege and joy of visiting the magical place that is Queenstown and encountered some progressive adventure tourism operators with a difference!

Firstly, I was invited by Trent Yeo at Ziptreck to try out the amazing Kea Zipine, which involves 6 sip lines through the forest starting from the Gondola, and then ending with the worlds steepest zipline! The team and Ziptreck were incredible and made every part of the journey accessible to me. There was no fuss and no drama; they just listened to what I needed, made a couple of tweaks to the program and voila! I was able to do something I had not done in many years - have fun and take part in outdoor adventure tourism!

To then add to my excitement, an old friend and the owner operator of Charge About e-bikes, Campbell Read, had just taken possession of a tandem e - bike from the very fabulous Moustache brand of French bikes! Not only was it my first time on an e-bike, it was Campbell’s first time navigating a tandem e-bike too! However as they say “It is just like riding a bike” when you are riding a e-bike even when it is a tandem.

For the first time in 30 years I had the joyous experience of riding along a gorgeous river bank, exploring a local township and plunging into the river on 2 wheels! The fact that this ride took place in Arrowtown at the start of autumn added to the beauty of the experience but I simply could not believe that access to the outside world was actually that easy.

This is simply about attitude and the readiness of amazing positive people like Trent and Cam to think a bit creatively and to see something as an opportunity, not a problem! They really are about “possibility, not about disability!”

So, thank you Queenstown! You really could become the most accessible little adventure tourism city in the world! Let’s Be. the change and make it happen!