15 February 2011 – Employees with disabilities found themselves the centre of attention this year with the highly anticipated release of Progression’s first company calendar. Progression, an equity-owned organisation that helps employers successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workplace, decided to create the calendar to recognise companies who help employees push past their limits, and find their place in a productive environment.
“The concept was so simple,” says Beth Cook, MD of Progression. “By depicting these employees as members of a team, we were able to capture the spirit of acceptance and equality we work so hard to promote and to which the participating customers subscribe.”
Proceeds from the calendar were donated to Casual Day, a fundraising event that aims at raising funds for and building awareness of persons with disabilities. Each year, the organisers ask companies to dress out of the ordinary on the first Friday of September, while prominently displaying a Casual Day sticker (obtained for a R10 donation). Says Operations Co-ordinator for Casual Day, Celeste Vinassa, “When you see someone dressed in a tuxedo and bunny slippers, you’re sure to take a closer look and pick out the sticker. That’s the effect we’re going for.” When asked how well the event works, Vinassa only has to point out growth from R413 000 raised in 1995 to nearly R18 million in 2009. Beneficiaries of Casual Day’s efforts are The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa, Epilepsy SA, DeafSA, The South African National Council for the Blind, The South African Federation for Mental Health, and Disabled People South Africa.
“We see Casual Day as a worthy recipient,” says Beth Cook. “Their track record shows their dedication to an important cause, and that they are involved for the long haul.”
To create the calendar, Progression asked their customers to sponsor a page, showing one of their own candidates in the work environment. This gave them the opportunity to highlight their commitment to keeping the workplace open in support of those overcoming obstacles.
The result was an overwhelming success. While Progression estimated their donation would be at least R4 500 from the sponsorship effort alone, the eventual contribution from both sponsorships and calendar sales was a respectable R19,604.56. Participating customers included Denel, Khubonet, Transcend, Oracle and Volkswagen.
Will Progression continue with the calendar in the future? “Without a doubt,” says Cook. “The success of the project means we’ve already started preparing for a 2012 edition, and we’re shooting even higher this time around.”
A last word from Celeste Vinassa says it all: “Thank you to Progression and its customers for their generous contribution. Thank you for the extra vooma!”