I Can! Farm

The I Can! Merrivale academy near Howick, KZN has been open for almost a year. It is the first agricultural academy in the group and has 6 classes catering for a maximum of 85 learners at full capacity.

The first group of learners, enrolled on Plant Production (NQF level 1) have almost completed their learnership. During the course of this past year they have been introduced to farming practices and have learned how to grow their own vegetables.

It was hard work at the start. The ground had to be prepared for vegetable planting and this involved many hours of weeding, digging, composting, analyzing the soil type and then adding nutrients to improve the quality of the soil. Seeds and seedlings were then planted into open vegetable gardens as well as into the newly erected vegetable tunnel.

In between class work, the learners would put on their gumboots and overalls and then tend to the rapidly growing spinach, carrot, bean and cabbage plants. Competition between groups was tough and a certain amount of bragging was noticed when some plants grew stronger than others. The learners were delighted when they realized that all harvested vegetables were theirs to take home.

We are extremely proud of our agricultural academy. It is a happy place, where you will hear songs in the morning, excited chatter throughout the day and watch a group of learners realize that you can place ABILITY before disability with astonishing results.

Watch us grow!

Rowan Robinson
Manager: Agriculture and Special Projects

Mandela Day – Vereeniging Academy

Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

It has become accepted practice in South Africa that on Mandela day we try and dedicate 67 minutes of our time to those less fortunate than ourselves and make a difference in their lives.

This year the I Can! Academy in Vereeniging dedicated 67 minutes of their time on the 20th of July 2015 at Eurisko Centre in Vereeniging. The I Can! learners collected a few items, which enabled them to prepare some warm soup for Eurisko Centre’s residents – including both young and elderly people. Together, learners and residents played games and afterwards enjoyed a wonderful hot cup of soup on a cold wintery day. It was a blessed day as it brought smiles on the faces of Eurisko’s people.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Quoted by: Nelson Mandela

I Can! learners and staff also felt proud of themselves for having made the day such a huge success by being able to feed the needy on Mandela Day. It was a time filled with love and joy and we are happy to report that everyone had a wonderful day.

Liane Chipangura
Operations Manager – Gauteng

Kempton Park News

In order to become a great Facilitator, one must go beyond the textbook and attend workshops and ongoing educational interventions to fully master the practice.

Author unknown

The I Can! Kempton Park Facilitation Team decided to start the journey towards greatness! As a group it was decided to expand on each other’s knowledge and experience by conducting monthly workshops.

Starting from the month of June 2015 this team will meet every month and take turns in presenting information aimed at empowering facilitators with knowledge and improving facilitation performance, with a specific focus on productivity and results.

We had our first workshop in the 4th week of June where one of our facilitators Francinah Tsotetsi presented the following topic: Managing Learners.

We wish the team well as they live by the motto, “I Can! Learn”

Petronella Mthethwa
Academy Supervisor, Kempton Park

Braampark Academy Celebrates Youth Day in Style

Together with the rest of South Africa our Braampark Academy commemorated Youth Day on the 16th of June in remembrance of all the young people who lost their lives on that day.

The Learners dressed in school uniform and came prepared for a range of activities taking place on the day. The activities included watching the movie “Sarafina”, which described what happened during the 1976 Soweto uprising. The learners also had the opportunity of participating in a “Spelling Bee” competition.

Spelling Bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words. The learners were divided into two competing groups. Each group was made up of learners with various disabilities, including deaf learners, learners with intellectual disabilities and those with physical disabilities.

The concept was adopted from the Khaya FM Spelling Bee in partnership with the Spelling Bee organization. The goal is to help enrich an individual’s vocabulary . The competition also encouraged diversity, tolerance and acceptance within the groups. A strong bond was formed between the two groups while the facilitators were given the daunting task of judging the competition.

We thank the Braampark staff for organizing such a great event.

Winnie Mokoti
Operations Manager – Gauteng

I Can! Clean becomes Capacity Clean

In 2014 I Can! started a new division called I Can! Clean with a view to providing employment for our learners that had completed learnerships within one of our academies.

One of the most wonderful cases of inclusion and reasonable accommodation that I have ever witnessed has been through the cleaning division.

One of our academy learners applied for a position within our cleaning division.  We were initially concerned about placing Gugu on site as she is a little person and we thought that due to her not being able to reach most surfaces she would not be able to perform the cleaning tasks required of her.  However, due to her persistence, we placed Gugu in a call centre as a cleaner.

I accompanied her on-site for her first shift and was dismayed at the way all of the call centre agents stared at Gugu the first time she walked down the centre of the call centre area and asked Gugu if she was going to be ok.  Gugu replied confidently that she would be absolutely fine.  To my amazement, I returned to the site a week later to check on Gugu, to find that as she walked through the same area where the agents had previously stared at her and made comments under their breaths, they were now shouting “Hi” and giving her high-fives as she passed by!!!

I learnt two lessons from Gugu.  The first being to never make the assumption that someone cannot perform certain tasks due to their disability: ask the person with the disability first – often something as simple as a step-ladder will enable the person to perform their job just like anyone else!  The second lesson was: don’t let your own fears and inhibitions hold people with disabilities back – trust them and follow their lead.  As the well-known disability slogan goes “Nothing about us without us….”

Since I Can! Clean showed such great potential to ensure employment for our learners, a decision was made to take this opportunity to another level of professionalism by entering into a partnership with Capacity Outsourcing. Through this partnership we are able to assist our clients to provide employment for their learners once they have completed their learnership, as well as access the 5 bonus points under the new Skills Development Codes.  Capacity has staff employed in this division with over 13 years’ experience in the corporate cleaning industry and I Can! has the knowledge and experience on how to successfully integrate people with disabilities into the workplace.

In our experience, cleaning services (specifically office and ablution cleaning) offers the ideal environment for repetitive work which is ideally suited to people with an intellectual disability.

Should you find this solution attractive and in line with your corporate transformation process, we would welcome the opportunity to explain in more detail the impact of this proposition – not only for you as our client, but also for your learner.

Ali Smeeton
Managing Director


Cape Town – Bellville Academy Camp!


On the 27 April 2015 the I Can! Cape Town learners and facilitators left on a three day camp to Apostle Battery Camp in Llundudno. The Camp was planned in light of the learner’s upcoming Modules Main Meals, Light Meals and Bedrooms and Bathrooms which forms part of the Domestic Services Learnership. The camp provided the facilitators and learners with the necessary practical requirements in terms of the kitchen and bathrooms.

This experience was a first for I Can! Facilitators as well as learners, as most of them have never ventured further than the academy or their homes. The camp site is situated facing the ocean and is beautiful and was easily able to house the 67 learners for the three days as well as the 5 facilitators. The kitchen was adequately equipped for the three days, to complete the practical work with the learners. The learners were exposed to a number of activities that assisted them to provide the assessor with authentic and real evidence for their portfolios. The camp in itself was sponsored entirely by the learners who attended the camp and no financial support was required from I Can Management. The three days were planned with each day having a schedule and menu for the different meals that needed preparing. The learners were closely supervised and assisted during this time and they were able to showcase their talents in the kitchen.

It was not only work and no play, the learners also had an opportunity to explore and share their creative talents while they were there. A number of fun activities were planned to stimulate their minds and to encourage team work. A family tree was erected on the wall of the camp, they had a dancing competition and played outdoor games such as basketball and soccer. The learners had a chance to bond with each other and their facilitators. This spilled over into the work place as each team member discovered a new respect and willingness to assist each other at the workplace.

It was truly an unforgettable and enjoyable three days.

Employee of the Month : Vereeniging Academy

Josef Le Grange

Anyone who has ever been to our Vereeniging academy will agree with me when I say that Josef is the first person you see on arrival and the last person you will see again when you leave.

Josef ushers all visitors from the car park, assists them with their belongings and leaves them in the hands of the rightful person to attend to them in the academy. He does the same to the staff when they arrive in the morning and also when they leave.

The academy Supervisor (Francis van der Watt) in her own words told me that this academy wouldn’t function without Josef. Apart from the daily tasks that comes with his position, he goes an extra mile to ensure all staff and learners are catered for. He opens the academy before anyone arrives and he sets up everyone’s work station. By the time the staff get to work, their air conditioners will already be set according to their preferences and their desks will be clean.

Now you could argue that all of this should be part of his job description, however Vereeniging staff will disagree. Throughout the time they have worked with him, staff and learners feel that Josef treats everyone with respect and he is ALWAYS willing to assist with anything, even if it’s not his job.

When I issued staff gifts on the graduation function on the 24th of April, I had so much to say about Josef’s role in the academy and the best way I could describe him was that “Josef is the one who looks after all of us in the academy

Business Practical – Learner Success Story

Durban North Academy

It’s always nice to report on a success story and this one is no exception.

Anastacia Lebona completed the Business Practical Learnership program in September 2014. Anastacia has a physical disability but she never allowed this to dampen her enthusiasm. She showed great potential right from the start of the program and very rarely missed a class, being always eager to learn. Needless to say, she completed the course with flying colours.

Anastacia would attend on-site practical work with Bidclick , who sponsored her learnership, requested that she gain practical experience on their site once a week, and were so impressed with her dedication, hard work, and performance that they offered her employment as soon as the learnership program ended! She is currently getting experience in various departments within the company as she is groomed for a future supervisory role.

There are huge benefits for clients who choose to take on and employ learners whom they have sponsored on a learnership program, making them eligible for the 5 bonus points on the Skills Development score card. The disabled learners not only receive a qualification at the end of the Learnership program but are also groomed and coached as confident, hardworking and employable people who are keen to learn more.

Natasha Mc Allister
Operations Manager – KZN

International Multiple Sclerosis

International Multiple Sclerosis month: (1 – 31 May)

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month is an effort by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) to raise awareness of the condition. The goals are to promote an understanding of the disease, and to assist those with MS in making educated decisions about their healthcare.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, degenerative condition of the central nervous system (CNS) affecting the brain, the spinal cord and the optic nerve. It is the most common disabling neurological disease among young adults and affects around 3000 to 4000 people in South Africa. MS is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40, and women are almost twice as likely to develop it as men. MS is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the connections between the brain and the body’s nerves are damaged.

The term “multiple sclerosis” means “many scars.” This is because multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition characterized by scars or lesions in the spinal cord and the brain. Though MS has been recognized as a disease since the mid 1800’s, its cause still remains a mystery. Scientists are working with several theories about the cause of MS as their foundation for efforts toward a cure.

Scientists suspect that MS may be indirectly linked to a virus or bacteria. Up to now, no virus or bacteria has been identified, and there is no evidence that MS is contagious. However, the clear involvement of the immune system in MS indicates this path of research may be promising. MS is not directly inherited, but it is clear that genetic factors play a role in who gets the disease. In some populations such as the Eskimos, the illness is unheard of.

As well as myelin loss, there can also sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres. It is this nerve damage that causes the accumulation of disability that can occur over time. The underlying damage to the brain and spinal cord may become permanent, leading to physical disability or cognitive impairment (problems with memory, thinking and other mental functions). While there is no cure for MS, major strides in understanding the disease and knowing when and how to treat MS have been made over the past decade.


Madre Human
General Manager – I Can!

Learn To Earn

Through corporate sponsorship (usually ED or SED spend) Khulisani is providing working experience for people with a disability who have completed learnerships. It’s a win-win…

Khulisani’s mission and focus is to get these young people with a disability employed!

One of the key areas which we have identified as suitable, sustainable and beneficial (to all parties) is work in care facilities: tending to the young and old.

In order for our ex-learners to be employed, a level of training and experience must be attained. Through companies supporting Khulisani (usually an Enterprise Development contribution, but sometimes an SED contribution) Khulisani can pay suitable ex-learners (with a disability) to work at selected, chosen locations (such as LIV Village, TAFTA, Durban Children’s Home, The Domino Foundation etc) providing them with:

  • An income (Khulisani pays their monthly wage)
  • Confidence through support and coaching
  • The necessary work experience to grow and develop
  • Uniforms, supervision and management (to ensure all parties are satisfied with the agreement, and that a high level of approval is reached)

Learn To Earn is an authentic way for your company to position it’s ED or SED spend while helping to provide People with Disabilities with an opportunity to gain valuable job experience – please contact us for information or enquiries.

Rachael Erskine
National Operations Manager