The benefits of fostering a culture of compassion

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

The corporate world is often described as being a ‘cut throat’ and ‘dog-eat-dog’ environment, where the strong survive and thrive by trampling on the weaker people below them. However, with the increase in psychological studies and research into the impact of aggression versus humanity in the workplace, it has become more and more evident that a positive, inclusive environment yields better work cohesion, a stronger team and (ultimately) more success.

The result is that a revolution has begun in the corporate world; a revolution of compassion. In a Psychology Today article on The Unexpected Benefits of Compassion in the Workplace, Doctor Emma M Seppἅlἅ states “…when organisations promote an ethic of compassion… they may not only see a happier workplace but also an improved bottom line.”

With March being National Intellectual Disability Month, businesses are afforded a valuable opportunity to join in the revolution and foster a culture of compassion within their workplaces. An effective way of doing this is to incorporate a more active strategy within organisations geared towards charitable causes and awareness. Major corporate organisations such as Discovery have already joined the movement by registering for LITTLE EDEN Society’s Annual CEO Wheelchair Campaign, which is set to launch on 27 of February.

LITTLE EDEN cares for 300 children and adults who live with profound intellectual disabilities. The CEO Wheelchair Campaign calls on CEOs to donate R50 000 (R30 000 for leaders of small businesses) towards the Society and to spend any day in March at their workplace in a wheelchair. Due to their low level of mental functioning, the residents do not qualify schooling, even special needs schooling. Their intellectual disabilities also often lead to physical disabilities. As a result the organisation is excluded from benefiting from CSI funding. The aim of this Campaign is to create awareness and shed some light on the struggles that the brave residents of LITTLE EDEN face daily.

There is a lot that can be learned from the stories of these residents who show immense courage and fortitude to not only endure, but flourish. All 300 residents at LITTLE EDEN need specialised care and therapy to reach their full potential. Residents such as Yanga, a 21 years old severely affected by Down Syndrome. When Yanga first arrived in 2015, he was introverted and immobile, he was silent and didn’t have the confidence to walk. He would not interact with anyone and preferred to sit outside in the sun on his own.

Through intensive physiotherapy and daily stimulation, the LITTLE EDEN team has helped Yanga get out of his wheelchair and walk. Sensory boards were also used in his treatment to help engage his attention and senses. As a result, Yanga is now happy, vocal and active.

“Thanks to the compassion of those who care for them, and those who support their endeavours, Yanga is learning and growing. He laughs a lot and hugs other residents,” concludes Xelda Rohrbeck, CEO of LITTLE EDEN. “Cases like this one so clearly highlight the power of compassion in overcoming obstacles. As well as how joining forces and giving back can impact those who receive as well as those who give.”

All CEOs interested in participating in the LITTLE EDEN CEO Wheelchair Campaign, contact Mary-Anne Wright at perfectword2@trinitas.co.za.