From SPAN to SkillWise
SPAN (Special Persons Alternative Needs) Charitable Trust was established in 1991 by a group of parents at a time when deinstitutionalisation was moving from a discussion to becoming reality. Deinstitutionalisation brought uncertainty to the lives of many people living in institutions and their families.
Hence some parents were proactive in ensuring there were meaningful options and opportunities for their sons and daughters. The organisation ran as a Sheltered Workshop from 1991 until 2004 when it underwent significant change transitioning from sheltered work to community participation. Pathways to Inclusion (2001) provided much of the impetus for this change. At this time, Community Participation was a new approach to disability support and was based around the principle of inclusion and supporting people to experience an "ordinary life". The predominant approach to service provision tended to be centre-based group activities with some community involvement. SkillWise operated in more or less this way from 2004 until 2011.
The earthquake events of February 2011 changed life forever in Christchurch. As an organisation we were confronted by numerous challenges not the least of which included the loss of our building and the majority of its contents.
A few months into rebuilding the service we began to realise that an opportunity existed for us to do things differently. Hence the Utopia Project was born.
The Utopia Project was a joint project between SkillWise and SAMS (Standards and Monitoring Services) which enabled us to really put our organisational values into practice. The core values included:
• Self determination
This equates to a model of support based around facilitation and the building of a range of relationships. This in turn helps to ensure people take on valued social roles as citizens within their communities, through personalised support options and opportunities.
A copy of the report detailing the key elements and outcomes of the Utopia Project is available on the downloads page.
As you navigate your way around our site you will develop a real sense of the diverse range of areas in which people are participating.