Founder - Legacy page
Madissa Asgari MA, BA (Hons)
As many of you now know, Madissa passed away recently after a long illness, but yet unexpected, as she was on her way of recovery. Madissa was our Founder, Toucan’s Principal Trainer and everyone’s guiding-star. She always had a smile on her face and a positive impact upon everyone that was lucky enough to meet her. Her inspirational and courageous personality gave us the confidence to never give up and she taught us that we must always fight hard for change. She has left such a hole in all of our lives and we will miss her terribly.
Toucan Diversity is Madissa’s legacy and we have a desire to continue her tireless work, building awareness of inclusion and fighting for real equality. To help us on our mission – Madissa’s mission – we have set up a ‘Just Giving’ page in her honour. If you would like to make a donation, however small, we promise it will be used to continue Madissa’s work and it will contribute towards making a lasting impression in her name.
Madissa set up Toucan Diversity as a social enterprise and was its principal trainer. She believed people need first-hand experience to deliver training to create a social impact. Madissa Asgari was born in London in 1986 to a German mother and a Persian father. This multilingual, multi-cultural upbringing, together with her own physical condition (Spina Bifida), helped to make her aware of the range of existing cultural and religious attitudes towards disability.
In 2004, Madissa wrote a children’s book called ‘Timeband’, which was written with the aim of challenging the negative depictions of disability, within children’s literature. As the story’s main character has a disability that is never mentioned, readers judge her for her character; not her disability. ’Timeband’ was distributed at schools and was printed through the national charity ‘Whizz kidz’. It is available on Amazon and can be purchased via this website.
Shortly after the publication of her book, Madissa Asgari went on to study for a BA (Hons) in Languages and European studies at the University of Portsmouth. As part of her studies, Madissa also spent a year at the University of Marburg in Germany. This experience clearly highlighted the importance of promoting the Social Model of Disability, in order to improve the lives of those with disabilities. The year abroad demonstrated that, although Germany has better medical services in place for students, the UK focuses more on trying to make sure that its students are independent and included within University life. Having obtained her degree at Portsmouth, Madissa went on to do a Masters in European Studies and International Relations. Her dissertations for both academic levels focussed on different aspects of disability in society.
In 2012, Madissa became a member of the Portsmouth Disability Forum, which campaigns to improve local facilities and services for disabled people in the Portsmouth area.
In November 2013, Madissa established a social enterprise called, “Toucan Diversity Training”. This new venture is committed to providing Equality Training for various establishments such as schools and voluntary organisations. Madissa is an associated member of the Institute of Equality & Diversity Practitioners (IEDP) and has recently completed a TQUK level 3 course in Education and Training.