With a determined vision to support necessary and relevant change, the Realize story in Belize started back in 2001.
Our co-founders Sam and Richard first came to Belize in September 2001 as volunteers with the Cornerstone Foundation, based in San Ignacio. During their time with the Cornerstone Foundation they established the first all-disability project, working with individuals with disabilities directly as well as providing support for professionals in the community, including producing the first disability handbook for teachers in Belize.
It was clear that there was an absolute need for enhanced services and support for individuals with disabilities and their families - with no state-run services in place, those with disabilities in Belize were left unsupported and vulnerable, with little opportunity to access education, employment or their fundamental rights.
Sam and Richard committed themselves to finding a solution, and recognising that they needed to deepen their own skills so they could offer the best they could to Belize, set about building their own experience and ability to act.
Stepping forward to February 2016 and Realize was born. Over the intervening years our founders remained connected with Belize, regularly visiting and learning of the need from individuals, families and organisations. From 2016 Sam and Richard became committed full-time to developing a locally-relevant and user-led service that answered the needs they were hearing about.
The foundation of the organisation was based in a clear articulation of what was needed - the first nine months were spent in developing a full need analysis to ensure that the work of Realize was based in the reality of day-to-day lives of individuals with disabilities.
With charitable and not-for-profit status established in the UK, and in the process of registration in Belize, Realize is now ready to work with and on behalf of the community of individuals with disabilities in Belize to build a better world.