A local business and a talented Whanganui teenager have made the finals for the 2020 Attitude Awards which are a nationally televised annual event celebrating the achievements and successes of New Zealanders living with disabilities.
Whanganui Girls College Year 13 student Libby Hunsdale is one of three finalists for the Attitude Youth Courage Award.
After capturing the attention of filmmaker Linda Niccol last year, Libby was cast to play the lead role in the made-for-TV movie Poppy - the story of a determined young woman with Down syndrome who wants to become a motor mechanic. She has been filming in Kāpiti and Poppy is likely to screen later this year or early in 2021.
The Attitude Awards selectors have chosen the 18-year-old as a finalist because of her determined and optimistic approach to reaching her goals.
"Libby places no limitations on herself and is determined to do as others can. She believes her biggest disability isn't Down syndrome but rather other people's assumptions of what she can achieve."
Whanganui-based business GPSOS is a finalist in the Attitude ACC Employer Award.
GPSOS supplies independence alarms with 24-hour monitoring and employs more than 40 staff members with a disability with the goal of bringing social change and results in staff having greater empathy and understanding for their clients because of their own experiences.
Owner Mark Simmonds started the business with the aim of supplying personal alarms that are easily activated after a friend's father was unable to activate his standard medical pendant when he suffered a stroke.
"I was thinking there has to be a better way - and this idea grew from that," Simmonds said.
The purpose of the GPSOS alarms is to enhance people's freedom and help them build the confidence to safely navigate the world.
He also wanted to employ people who have "abilities" and contacted Jan Lawton at Workbridge - an employment service for people with disabilities or health conditions to recruit members for his team.
Not only was Lawton able to put him in touch with some great employees, but she also helped to secure funding from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) so the workplace could be modified to enable workers with physical disabilities to manage the environment.
It was Lawton who nominated GPSOS for the attitude award.
"They are currently the largest employer of people with disabilities in Whanganui and they also employ people who work remotely from outside Whanganui.
"They are awesome," she said.
GPSOS operations manager Scott Lee trained a new group of employees via Zoom during Covid-19 level 4.
"We have heard brilliant feedback about how well the alarms are working for customers with disabilities," he said.
"Our teams are offering great support for people over the phone as well."
GPSOS board member and All Is For All co-founder Grace Stratton is also a finalist in the Employee and Entrepreneur category of the Attitude Awards this year.
The 2020 Attitude Awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 2, at Auckland's Cordis Hotel.
Whanganui businesses Pacific Helmets, Horticultural Services and Axiam Plastics have all been previous finalists for the Attitude ACC Employer Award and continue to support employees with disabilities.