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Social change leader honoured for helping the blind

10 November 2011

Social change leader honoured for achievements benefitting blind and partially sighted people

Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) member Minnie Baragwanath has been recognised for her achievements in the disability sector at the RNZFB’s Annual General Meeting.

Geraldine Glanville, RNZFB Board Chair, was delighted to award Minnie with the Chairman’s Award for 2011 at the meeting held on 5 November.

“The Chair’s Award recognises a member of the RNZFB who has contributed in a significant way to the blind community or society in general”, says Geraldine.

“Minnie has made a real difference in effecting social change for disabled New Zealanders during the past year by launching the Be. Institute. She makes me feel proud to be blind.”

The Be. Institute is a social enterprise set up to inspire and enable an accessible New Zealand, for the 20 percent of our population who are living with a disability.

It launched several initiatives this year, Be. Accessible which is the social change campaign, Be. Leadership, a year long leadership program, and Be. Welcome, a holistic assessment tool to enable and encourage businesses to become more accessible to a diverse customer base.

“Receiving this award is truly extraordinary. At the age of 21 I never thought I would have a full time job, and today I was introduced as the chief executive of Be. I’m living my dream job and the RNZFB needs to take some credit for enabling me to live the life I dreamed of”, says Minnie.

“I think it’s essential to invest in disabled people as leaders, and to keep on investing as their voices and contribution are infinite.”

Already the Be. Institute initiatives have gained significant support from central government and its three founding partners, AUT, Auckland District Health Board and Auckland Council.

About the RNZFB

The RNZFB is the country’s main provider of sight loss habilitation and rehabilitation services to around 11,500 blind and partially sighted New Zealanders.

Every year, nearly 1,100 New Zealanders become RNZFB members after experiencing serious sight loss.

We equip our members with the adaptive skills, technology and resources they need to overcome the barriers they face to participating fully in society and leading independent lives.


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