A group of young people who are blind or have low vision are half way through an eight-month leadership program designed to develop skills and the confidence to succeed in their chosen career.
Vision Australia’s Learn Engage Act Perform (LEAP) is designed to help young people aged 14-17, and sees them working with their service provider and as a group via webinar once a month.
Tiana Offord (15) couldn’t be happier with the program and how it’s helping her reach her goals.
“It’s a great program and we’re all like-minded. Even though we’re all working on the projects individually, there’s a sense we’re all working together,” Tiana said.
Activities have included a personality test to identify values and skills, establishing a fundraising plan, connecting with a coach who is working in the field that the young person is aspiring to and developing an elevator pitch where participants have to describe themselves in thirty seconds.
“The pitch was hard,” Tiana said. “I don’t really like talking about myself and I didn’t want to sound like I was boasting, but I did it. I said I was a dedicated student in year ten who wanted to help people learn English.”
Tiana loves languages and speaks both Italian and Spanish. Her dream is to teach English as a second language to Spanish speakers.
“I love Spanish culture. It all started through listening to Spanish music and it grew through there,” she said.
“The activities show us what we are good at and what we can improve on. The leadership skills are really about organising an event or people and really being in charge of yourself. If you can have good leadership skills it means you can co-operate with other people.”
Tiana said her confidence has grown through doing the course. While she has always known what career she wanted to pursue, she felt anxious over the uncertainty around how to make it happen.
“LEAP has shown us there are particular steps to success. It’s a great course and there isn’t anything to not be enthusiastic about. While the course has challenges it’s not so challenging that you want to give up,” she said.
When asked how she sees her employment prospects as a young person with low vision, and how she maintains her motivation, Tiana said staying positive is the key.
“I don’t think negatively – there’s no point in being negative. I know having low vision will impact on my job or career options but there are ways around it, for example technology, and also I can ask people to help me.”
If you’d like more information on employment, self-development or our leadership programs visit the Cornerstone page on the Vision Australia website.