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I.LEAD was a co-created concept between the young people of the Youth Engagement Group and YES Disability Management. There was a lack of reporting to national and international government entities that reflected the stories, wants and needs of youth with disabilities around the world. We thought it was our duty to come up with a solution to help fill this gap for New Zealand, and so the initial concept of I.LEAD was born.

The concept was then presented to Minister of Disability Issues, Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, and Director of Disability Issues, Brian Coffey, who suggested that a conference be held for youth with disabilities in the Parliament Building in Wellington. There, disabled youth from across the country would come together to discuss issues and barriers they face that prevent them from living their best life, and to come up with innovative solutions on how to remove these barriers.

As a result of the conference, a total of 27 recommendations were suggested after the 2-day conference. These recommendations spanned 7 topic points, including Housing, Healthcare, Media, Sport and Recreation, Employment, Education and Transport. They spoke of actions on avocating for things like representation, participation, co-creation and accessibility. Another recommendation was the need to have a national advisory group, as well as many regional advisory groups, made up of youth with disabilities.These groups would work with local and central government to help implement the recommendations in a way that helped create a more liveable and accessible Aotearoa. 

We now have two groups under the I.LEAD umbrella, based in Auckland and Palmerston North, with many more being established across the country. 

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