Graduation: Altitude Learners Take the Next Step

When a new year starts, it marks not only the start of a new year but it also symbolises the end of yet another era. For this particular group of Altitude learners, 2017 marks the start of a whole new important chapter in their lives.

For the 2015/2016 class of Business Administration Services NQF 4 learners, the start of 2017 marks their graduation and certification as qualified Business Administrators. After completing the 12-month course with both theoretical classes as well as practical experience, the Altitude learners are left with a qualification that not only builds their self-esteem but, at the same time, provides each of them with an edge that makes each individual just that little bit more ‘saleable’ to prospective employers.

On March 20, 2017 Altitude held the official graduation ceremony for the learners. While relatively low-key, the event allowed Altitude staff the final opportunity to greet these individuals as learners before the staff were granted the additional privilege of formally acknowledging their achievements.

At the same time as celebrating the end of a significant chapter in the lives of the learners, the graduation ceremony allowed Altitude staff the opportunity to take a break from their usual day-to-day schedules and see tangible evidence of how the hours they spend at work affects the Disabled Community in such a fundamentally positive way.

While the ceremony provided a much-needed break from the daily operations of office life and our staff taking photos with the graduates, clad in their new academic gowns and caps, the feelings of gratitude and joy that permeated Altitude’s Boardroom served to revitalise our staff’s commitment to seeking employment for People with Disability in Cape Town.

To get in contact with Altitude or simply have a look at more photos from the 2017 graduation, check out our FaceBook page or give us a call on 021 761 5321.

Written by Aidan Bizony, a person with a disability, for the Altitude Group

Walking on Waves: Freedom Through Unity & a Surfboard

As a person in a wheelchair, I find that ongoing therapies can be extremely emotionally taxing, among other things – something I think all of us, regardless of our ability, can agree on. When an organisation strives to find ways to improve the quality of lives of persons with disabilities, both physically and emotionally, it can be an amazing thing to be a part of. The Walking on Waves initiative endeavours to find ways to bring surfing – a sport which is seen as inherently needing extreme physical strength – to paraplegics and amputees (as well as other disabilities).

Walking on Waves founder, William Leadbetter, acknowledges surfing often gives surfers a unique sense of freedom. Due to the physical demands of the sport, however, that freedom has been, by-in-large, denied to persons with disabilities.

By providing specially-adapted equipment and wetsuits along with the adoption of an inclusive, positive outlook Leadbetter and his team have been able to bring surfing further into the Disabled Community.

At the same time as bringing surfing into the Disabled Community, Walking on Waves brings together individuals from all around the Cape Peninsula from several different backgrounds – which, in its own right, serves to unite the Cape Town Disabled Community further.

Surfing, as well as bringing a sense of freedom and entertainment to those who do it, has significant medical benefits. The very nature of surfing allows for it to become an effective form of hydrotherapy while, at the same time, being a source of happiness and joy.

While paraplegics and amputees benefit from the work that Walking on Waves does, Leadbetter and his team also cater to other disabilities such as Autism, Cystic Fibrosis and PTSD. The changes Walking on Waves has made to people’s lives are so profound that, as Leadbetter puts it, they “don’t simply live to surf, they surf to live.”

The work that Leadbetter and his team of volunteers at Walking on Waves are doing is commendable. That said, their work could be dramatically improved with a little extra support. Currently, the one-and-a-half-year-old Muizenberg-based organisation is without an adequate number of adapted wetsuits and a dedicated vehicle in which to transport everything that they need to operate effectively.

Even if the support that the Altitude Foundation provide to them allows them to teach one more individual to surf, is it not our duty to give them that support? Isn’t it our obligation to help someone experience the freedom that surfing provides? If all the support only helps Walking on Waves to do is give the joy of surfing to one individual for one day, I would feel proud to have made that person’s life better, that little bit brighter.

See for more information.

Written by wheelchair-user, Aidan Bizony, for the Altitude Group

Learnership Programmes: The Road to Independence

In 1998, the government enacted the Skills Development Act which became the groundwork for organisations such as the Skills Development Training Authority. While several organisations run learnership programmes in South Africa, it is SETA that is ultimately responsible for regulating them, thereby achieving the Development Act’s goals.

Altitude Facilities Management, an organisation that assists companies in complying with the national and provincial laws surrounding the employment of disabled persons, works hand-in-hand with Altitude Skills Development who run SETA-approved learnership programmes. Between Altitude Skills Development and Facilities Management, they not only train a new generation of persons with disabilities for the world of work but they also have mechanisms in place to support and find successful employment for their graduates.

Altitude’s 12-month learnership programmes in South Africa focus on both the necessary theoretical and practical skills that an individual would need in order to succeed in finding sustainable employment. While the size of the programmes at Altitude had only 50 or so individuals last year, the benefit candidates received was invaluable.

I interviewed a candidate who had completed the 2015 programme with Altitude and, after hearing her story, I have become convinced of the life-changing effects that learnership programmes can have on people’s lives.

After being admitted in Valkenberg for 3 months and losing her home along with most of her possessions, her Occupational Therapist suggested that she make contact with the Altitude Facilities Management to see how they might assist her going forward.

Before the candidate contacted Altitude, she had only completed standard nine and, as a result of her stay in Valkenberg, was unemployed. After entering into and completing the learnership programme with Altitude, she was immediately employed. As of September this year, she moved from her job at Altitude to work in the Disability Sector.

The learnership programme has, for this candidate, not only resulted in long-term successful employment but it has also sparked a desire in her to continue working in the Disability Sector as a whole.

Employment is a vital part of the South African economy which, in turn, is vital for the country’s overall ability to thrive. From that perspective learnership programmes resulting in long-term, sustainable employment plays a pivotal role in improving the national economy. Employment, regardless of a person’s ability, allows for them to become financially-independent and self-reliant.

Since disability can, by its very nature, make a person more dependent on others in a society where persons with disabilities are at a constant disadvantage, finding successful and sustainable employment for them not only makes them more financially-independent but allows for them to feel more like an equal member of society.

Learnership programmes, while important for any economy to thrive, have another dimension of emotional and physical independence for the Disabled Community.

Thanks to Altitude Skills Development, accessible learnerships and resulting employment are granting more disabled persons a greater sense of identity as South Africans.

For more information on Altitude Skills Development and Facilities Management go to or phone 021 761 5321.

Written by Aidan Bizony, a wheelchair-user, for Altitude Skills Development