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Climb Any Mountain

Kim Crossman, Team London – T2Q2

Interviewed by Jennifer Douglass (Team PNW – T2Q1) on October 14th, 2013

What is the name of your game?

Climb Any Mountain

Tell me more about Climb Any Mountain.

We are transforming what is available for people with learning disabilities and mental illness in South Africa using global practices.

Possibility:  The possibility of being loving, generous and fun!

What gave you initiative to start this game?

My younger sister, Cara, needed to move out 2 years ago.  All that was available in South Africa was residential care that is essentially institutional.  The choice and voice that Cara had always had over her life was no longer possible.  It was heartbreaking to stand by and watch. I saw that the only way to ensure for certain that Cara, and others like her, get to live lives they choose in the absence of family being available, is to transform the conversation and services across the country.

When did you start this project?

I established the not-for-profit company, Climb Any Mountain, in August 2011 (since achieving charitable status in August 2012).  Initially I raised funds to prop up existing service offerings in South Africa – looking to provide work opportunities or creative opportunities for engagement of people with learning disability and mental illness, who were living within already established services.

It was at the end of my year on Team (One) that I got to see that this was insufficient; and I saw clearly what really needed to be done.  It both terrified and excited me. But by then (a year on Team) I had gotten to know myself as someone who could transform a country.  The moment I declared this, things really started to happen.

Tell me more about the game and what your intentions are for the future.

Climb Any Mountain has established a partner (The Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society) who has provided land for us to build the first of its kind supported living facility for people with learning disability and mental illness in South Africa.  We’re calling this the Transitional Living Centre (TLC) and this will be a stepping stone for individuals to move out of institutional care into independent living space (1-bed, 2-bed or 4-bed apartments) where they get to master life skills through supported programmes.

Our next step is to roll out this blueprint across South Africa, with a target of 10 TLCs within the next 3 – 5 years.  We have met with the South Africa Federation for Mental Health and are in the process of securing partners within each of the 9 provinces across the country.  Key in this phase is extending our conversations with local and national government.  We want to ensure that disability grants and subsidies extend to these services so that they continue to be accessible for all.

And step 3 is developing supported housing programmes out in the community so that people can progress to living a life in and amongst the family and friends that matter to them, with the appropriate level of social services and personal support.

How do you keep things going in regards to funding?

Climb Any Mountain is run by a group of extraordinarily committed volunteers, so our overheads are low.

Some of our funds have come from individuals and small teams who have taken on climbing their own metaphorical mountain, whether it’s taking on a triathlon or marathon for the first time, walking across the UK or trekking through jungles.  This never fails to move and inspire me.

Because we need to raise a substantial amount (£1million) for the first TLC we’ve had to look beyond this for this type of funding and it has been serendipitous the people we have met along the way.  To date we have £600k pledged.

In addition, we are holding our inaugural annual Gala Dinner and Auction fundraiser on the 25th October this year, aligned with World Mental Health Day which was on the 10th October.

We’re at an exciting growth point where we need to start to look now at structuring our organisation and our funding for the longer term.  This will involve more engagement with companies for Corporate Social Responsibility, and with Foundation Trusts and Philanthropists.

How did you use what you learned in the Team, Management and Leadership Program to contribute to your life?

Before the Team Management and Leadership Program I used to work 14 – 16 hours days and almost every weekend.  I travelled constantly – flying from one end of the earth to the other for work assignments.  I wasn’t in a relationship, even though I really wanted to be.  I had so much I wanted to do outside of just working, but my conversation was that I didn’t have the time to do it all.

Since doing the Team Management and Leadership Programme, I have been promoted 3 times in my workplace and doing a much bigger job that spans our global operations. The difference is that I now work 9 to 5 and never work on weekends.  I have taken part in two triathlons and have vitality again. I am engaged to be married to my dream man (yes, he does exist!). And I have created a thriving charity that is transforming a country.

For me, my life is now living proof of the promise that at the end of team you will naturally go to cause teams and teamwork in everything that you do, and that you will do this with freedom and ease and having love and affinity present.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the Team, Management, and Leadership Program or Landmark?

I am so grateful for having being introduced to Landmark.  My life was not going to turn out the way it has, not that there was anything wrong, but I just wasn’t present to that it is possible to create your life the way you want.  Life as a result has been so much more fun, and there has been so much less suffering!

The Team Management and Leadership Program is the most rigorous, on-the-court training I have ever had.  I spent a lot of money and time on an MBA degree several years ago.  While it was a fabulous degree to do and certainly leveraged my career and knowledge base, it does not compare in terms of what the Team, Management and Leadership Programme has given me regarding the practical capability to manage, lead and cause teams to deliver results effectively.

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