There’s a huge gap at Hirepool in Lower Hutt where Colin Bailey used to work. He’s retired from the Hutt Road branch after more than 30 years on the job.

Colin’s farewell barbeque was an emotional day for everyone as Hirepool staff from across Wellington, along with Regional Manager Stuart Drew from Hawke’s Bay, came to say goodbye.

“He does leave a gap here – 100 percent,” Stuart says. “He swept the yard, kept it clean. No-one did it as well as he did. His work here was exceptional. He brought an excellent work ethic, a great sense of humour, a cheekiness.”

Stuart says he’ll miss Colin sneaking up on him and giving him a punch in the ribs. “It wasn’t just work; we were part of his extended family.”

He says employing Colin had been a success and Colin had worked to make it a success. “Years ago, someone came up with a great idea and he has stayed with us all that time. Colin still had to earn his way, which he did.”

Colin at his workstation. Photo: IHC

Wellington Area Manager Rod Groombridge worked with Colin for only seven or eight years but has known him far longer through Special Olympics New Zealand. Colin was a champion swimmer and Rod’s mother, Carol Groombridge, was the organisation’s first national secretary.

Rod says Colin was held in high regard by all the staff and treated as an equal. He says that was obvious in how many turned up to his farewell. A special sign reading ‘Colin’s Wash Room’ was hung over his work area.

“It was a funny old day. It was emotional really. We made that sign and we retired his broom.”

Colin had worked at Hirepool for longer than any of the team and through many of its former lives on the site – Projex, Hirequip and then Hirepool.

Hirequip used to hire out heavy equipment and when the trucks, diggers and huge road-sealing compactors came back clogged in mud Colin scoured their outsides with a water blaster and gave their cabs a dust-off ready for the next customer. He worked in all weather in gumboots, mask, leggings and a beanie to keep warm. In 2009 Hirequip presented him with a long-service award.

Hirequip’s successor, Hirepool, relocated the heavy machinery to another location and Colin switched gears. “I washed everything, the whole lot – washed all the gear, lawnmowers and rotary hoes.”

Colin started at Projex in 1985 or 1986, on work experience. He then took a year off to do the vocational life skills course at Petone Weltech before heading back to work.

Lee Bailey, Colin’s mother, says he got the job through IHC, working one day a week at the start. Before long “he was doing five days and he wanted to do six, but we put our foot down”.

This was a big commitment for Lee. “I would get up at 5.30am to get him to work. He went at 7am and was picked up at 2pm,” she says.

Last year, however, things changed. Although Colin’s job was waiting for him after lockdown, he was 59 and becoming increasingly tired. “Yeah, I would go home and sleep,” Colin says. As well, his father Ken died in September and Colin and Lee were having to adjust to the changes.

Lee, now 80, says she is glad to give up the early start. And Colin enjoys helping Lee around the house and mowing the lawns. He usually visits his old workmates once a week.

Source: IHC

 

Rochelle Waters recently received the NZDSA National Achievement Award from Rt Hon Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. She was nominated by the Canterbury Special Olympics administrator Helen Mitchell, who describes how Special Olympics are just part of Rochelle’s terrific list of achievements.

I would like to nominate Rochelle Waters for the NZDSA 2020 National Achievement Awards.

I know Rochelle through her involvement with Special Olympics and am amazed at what Rochelle has achieved throughout her lifetime, which is why I would like her to be considered for this Award.

Rochelle started swimming with Special Olympics in 2002 after shifting to Christchurch from Hamilton, where she had lived for five years.

She began competing very early on in ribbon days held throughout Christchurch, Regional Games which were held throughout the South Island and then on to compete in National Games which have been held in Palmerston North, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch.

In 2016 she became a Global Messenger for Special Olympics which has meant she has been called upon to speak about Special Olympics and what it has to offer and how she has benefitted from her involvement with Special Olympics.

She has been the Chairperson of the local Special Olympics Athletes Committee which meant she also had to attend the Upper South Island Regional Committee meetings and, after finishing her term as Chairperson, she still remains on the local Athletes’ Committee.

As well as being a member of the Special Olympics team, Rochelle belongs to Jolt Dance, which is a mixed ability dance group and has offered Rochelle a multitude of opportunities also.

Rochelle has performed in many shows with Jolt and has been a part of their teacher trainee programme which now sees Rochelle teach her own class of students with disabilities on a Monday afternoon.

She has travelled to Gisborne and Wanaka to perform in schools in a programme which is a collaboration between Jolt Dance and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Rochelle attended Darfield High School and in her final year at school, secured work experience with the Darfield Bakery as a bakery assistant working out the back in the kitchen.

After she left school, she was able to continue doing work experience for three hours per day two days a week, as well as doing work experience at West Melton School, the primary school she attended, and also the West Melton Kindergarten.

Halfway through the year, the Darfield Bakery owner advised he would like to start paying Rochelle and then even offered her an extra day of work, which was a credit to Rochelle’s work ethic and reliability and the Bakery’s recognition of Rochelle’s work.

Unfortunately, this meant Rochelle had to give up her work experience at the school and the kindergarten, but Rochelle loves working at the Bakery and takes great pride in her work and enjoys the camaraderie she has with her work colleagues.

Helping out with flouring the tins for the bread, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes and icing the biscuits are a few of her duties.

Rochelle has attended self-advocacy camps with the NZDSA, which she has enjoyed immensely, and would eventually love to be a self-advocate on the STRIVE group.

She has also been on the Committee of the Canterbury Down Syndrome Association.

Rochelle has learnt to travel independently on buses and planes through her involvement with Special Olympics, Jolt and the NZDSA, and she is hoping to go flatting in the near future – maybe even with her boyfriend, Sam!

Rochelle’s family has had a significant role to play in helping Rochelle achieve all she has achieved.  Her Mum and Dad, Shelley and Jeff, and her two sisters, Jessica and Gemma, have supported and encouraged Rochelle along the way.

I know they are very proud of the confident, well-grounded young woman Rochelle has become.

 

 

NZDSA MEDIA RELEASE

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) urgently calls on the Government to invest in disability attitude training for health professionals.

A deeply disturbing article in the Sunday-Star Times yesterday clearly articulated and emphasised the traumatic discrimination many families experience during pre-natal screening tests, as well as the pressure to terminate their pregnancies by medical professionals.

In the story, one expectant mother explains that as she was heading into theatre to have her baby delivered by caesarean, she was asked if she would want the doctor to resuscitate her baby if it was required.

“The stories from these parents once again demonstrates how parents feel pressurised and that information is not presented in a balanced way, nor are expectant parents provided with up-to-date information about Down syndrome,” says NZDSA president Kim Porthouse.

Porthouse says that most health professionals have no first-hand experience of living with Down syndrome and may not even be aware of the unconscious bias they bring to conversations with expectant parents.

“Because they have never met any people with Down syndrome living amazingly full and rewarding lives, they often revert back to a clinical health discussion that presents a doomsday scenario of potential health risks that may never eventuate.

“The parents are in shock, and in many cases termination is presented as the only logical option before parents even have time to process all the information,” says Porthouse

The NZDSA has consistently called for the National Screening unit to invest into disability attitudinal training for health practitioners, as well as focused training on how to offer screening and share screening results in a non-directive manner and to provide accurate and up-to-date information on Down syndrome.

“We have been asking for this for many years, but it still has not happened. It is such a sensitive moment so it is also important to offer expectant parents non-directive counselling to help them make their decision, but this is not available,” says the NZDSA president.

Porthouse says that people with Down syndrome are valued members of every community they live in, but for some reason medical professionals are determined to ignore the social aspects of the discussions.

“Down syndrome in itself should not be a reason to terminate a pregnancy. The way a society thinks about people with disability underpins everything,” says Porthouse, who emphasises that the NZDSA is not challenging a woman’s right to make her own decision, “but we just want them to be able to make a fully informed decision”.

The discrimination and stigma in society does not stop once the baby is born, judging by the recent experiences of Bridie Allen, parent of two-year-old Sienna.

“After the birth of my daughter, some people asked if I didn’t get the screening, as if there had been some mistake,” says Allen.

Porthouse says that this type of question confirms the discriminatory assumption by many in our society that expectant parents would terminate.

“And let’s not forgot how hurtful this unconscious bias in society must be to people with Down syndrome, who are told that their lives don’t really matter,” says Porthouse.

Vincenzo Vaccarino is a young man with Down syndrome from Palmerston North and he says the pre-natal screening discussions make him feel “very bad and uncomfortable”.

“It makes me feel very sad to hear that parents choose not to have babies with Down Syndrome,” says Vincenzo, who married his girlfriend Rachel two years ago.

“I think it is cruel. People should consider the rights of people with Down Syndrome, we have the same human right to live, like every other person.”

 

 

 

 

 

Four members of the New Zealand Down syndrome community have been honoured for their amazing individual achievements at special function at Government House today.

Jacob Dombroski, Rochelle Waters and Amelia Eades were bestowed with a National Achievement Award by Governor General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Governor-General, who is the patron of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA), also handed out the Val Sturgess Volunteer of the Year Award to Kathryn Sadgrove from Northland.

The awards had to be postponed in 2020 due to the Covid 19 lockdown, so the selection panel had a difficult task picking winners from a large group of well-deserving and high-calibre nominations across two years.

National Executive Officer Zandra Vaccarino says that Amelia, Jacob and Rochelle are incredibly talented, independent young people who are wonderful role models.

These three young people demonstrate every day  why they will not let societal barriers disable them they are proud and determined  individuals who offer terrific skills and value to their families, their friends and their community,”  says Vaccarino, who is pleased the recipients and their families were able to enjoy the special occasion at Government House after the recent Covid scare in Wellington.

Zandra Vaccarino, Jacob Dombroski and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Jacob Dombroski received his award for his accomplishments as an award-winning dancer and actor, with multiple stints on Shortland Street, as well as his basketball performances with in Special Olympics.

The Wellingtonian is also well-known for his support work and advocacy in the Down syndrome community.

Zandra Vaccarino, Rochelle Waters and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Rochelle Waters is another well-known face in the disability sector, as an advocate for the NZDSA, committee member of the Canterbury Down Syndrome Association, competitive swimmer and Global Messenger for Special Olympics, as well as an accomplished performer and instructor for mixed ability dance group Jolt Dance.

Between all these activities, it is hard to see how Rochelle has time to hold down her job at the Darfield Bakery.

Zandra Vaccarino, Amelia Eades and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Amelia Eades was honoured for a long list of stunning achievements, most notably choosing to take her needle anxiety head-on, and get six jabs to travel to Africa before last year’s lockdown.

The Aucklander also completed a two-year course at Unitec, volunteers at the Titirangi Art Gallery, works for Recreate’s Moxie employment scheme and is an accomplished yoga fan.

On top of all that, Amelia was cast as a model for NZ Fashion Week, interviewed for several magazines and made two television appearances on the back of this.

Zandra Vaccarino, Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy and Kathryn Sadgrove.

Kathryn Sadgrove was awarded the Val Sturgess Volunteer of the Year Award as the driving force behind the Northland Down syndrome community ever since her son Thomas was born in 1991.

“The Northland and New Zealand Down Syndrome Community are very grateful and proud of Kathryn,” says Vaccarino, who took the opportunity to divert some of the limelight back to the Governor-General.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dame Patsy who has been a fantastic patron and ambassador for the Down syndrome community. We have been honoured to be hosted regularly at Government House and we will be sad to see her leave later this year.”

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IHC has launched an exciting new service that will be helpful to many families with Down syndrome, especially in the more remote parts of the country.

IHC has create a new volunteering role called, i-Volunteer, which is an extension of its existing volunteer friendships and our Volunteer Programme in where we connect people to form friendships and engage in their communities.

i-Volunteer is an digital version which links volunteers with people with intellectual disabilities, but the connection is online and by phone.

ICH has also extended the service to include family carers of someone with an intellectual disability, and that friendship is online and by phone as well.

The beauty of this new online volunteer role is that it allows IHC to target regions where it does not currently operate because they don’t have a Volunteer Coordinator on the ground.

The new service allows IHC to also target remote areas such as farming communities or the West Coast of the South Island.

I-Volunteer is all about shared interests and doing what each person enjoys and wants to do as a part of their friendship together.

Things that volunteers and their friends have talked about doing together are:

  • trying a new recipe and cooking it together over zoom
  • exercising and watching yoga YouTube videos together
  • playing multi-player online games such as Animal Crossing or Minecraft
  • knit or craft while on zoom or skype
  • ‘visit’ zoos (for example logging onto the live webcam on the San Diego zoo website); or
  • just chatting over the phone.

 

The initial interest among volunteers has been encouraging and has already resulted in several new i-Volunteers undergoing our orientation and training process in readiness for a friendship match.

Their interests range from travel, sports, learning Spanish, to video games, movies, creative writing and cooking and photography.

Their individual skills and experiences indicate they will be a committed and valued friend to a person with intellectual disability, or to a family carer of a person with intellectual disability.

IHC is looking for referrals from people who would like an online volunteer friend, so any families that might be interested please contact Belinda Donaldson at IHC 0800 442 311 or

[email protected]

 

 

The NZDSA’s Self-Advocacy Leadership and Advisory Group, STRIVE, met in Wellington on June 19-20 to focus on gaining more self-advocacy and leadership skills.

While some may think a Funshop is all about fun, Funshops are really about allowing our self-advocates to do lots of important work and gain new skills in a fun and engaging way.

The Funshops are actioned packed and run for a full day, from 9 am until 5 pm.

The focus of all the Funshops is learning more about the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the skills the self-advocates need to share this information with their peers or to advocate for others.

The key focus this weekend was learning more about Article 25, which recognises that people with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability.

The group also spent time on Article 27 which recognises the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

The self-advocates are in the process of developing their Declaration on Employment.

To explore and discuss these rights further they\ group met with Brian Coffery, Director of Office of Disability, Paula Tesoriero, Disability Rights Commissioner and  Sarah Fuhrer‐ Advisor, Disability. Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The weekend also included work on a piece of research that STRIVE have conducted, learning more about interviewing and presentations skills.

Paula Tesoriero with STRIVE and the Self-Advocates

Everyone had a wonderful time.

Kathryn Sadgrove does not like to stand in the spotlight, but she will have to get used to it after the Whangãrei grandmother was honoured with the Val Sturgess National Volunteer Award by the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA).

“I’ve always done this role for other families to benefit and not to get recognition, so I’m now learning to get all this attention,” says Kathryn who has been a driving force behind the Northland Down syndrome community.

Kathryn Sadgrove with her son Thomas.

This week is National Volunteer week and few people will better personify this year’s theme “Recognise, Connect and Reimagine” than Sadgrove has done over the past 30 years.

After son Thomas was born with Down syndrome in 1991, Kathryn and husband Greg quickly recognised there was not a lot of support or information for families and she helped to connect parents for social meetings, which soon evolved into the Northland Down Syndrome Support Group.

“We provide a forum for parents to share information, be educated and supported and find a listening ear from others who know what you are going through,” says Kathryn, who will receive her award at Government House next month from NZDSA patron Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand.

Kathryn became the secretary of the support group, typing minutes on her old electric type writer, and soon started to advocate for families around Northland.

Initially, Kathryn produced monthly newsletters, but more recently set up a Northland Facebook page.

Connecting with families in Northland with its vast distances has created its own challenges.

“Sometimes we did not have phone numbers or emails so it was often difficult to reach everyone. But that has now improved dramatically since we have our own Facebook page, which makes it so much easier to reach people all over Northland.”

Kathryn also recognised a specific need for young people with Down syndrome who had left school to have a safe place where they could meet and enjoy activities together, so started to run the GreatM8s group who meet fortnightly and have developed strong friendships.

Aside from her local activities, Kathryn represented Northland for over 10 years on the NZDSA national committee, and has been a member of the Northland District Health Board consumer council where she advocates for the disability community.

She continues to visit parents of new-borns with Down syndrome all over Northland to provide information packs, support and acceptance.

Each year, Kathryn helps to organise the Christmas party and annual Lots of Rocks walk to celebrate World Down Syndrome day.

“Kathryn is a wonderful recipient of the Val Sturgess National Volunteer Award,” says NZSDA National Executive Officer Zandra Vaccarino.

“Kathryn is an inspiration for all the volunteers in Northland and the rest of the country.

“It is getting more difficult to find volunteers as our lives are getting busier, but Kathryn demonstrates how much she achieves despite managing her own and family health challenges, while also juggling her paid responsibilities with IDEA Services.

“The Northland and New Zealand Down Syndrome Community are very grateful and proud of Kathryn,” says Zandra.

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association is extremely proud of Michael Holdsworth becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The NZDSA believes Michael is the first person with Down syndrome in New Zealand to receive this kind of honour.
Michael was recognised for his decades of work for Special Olympics and his advocacy work for full inclusion of people with Down syndrome in their community in New Zealand.
NZDSA President Kim Porthouse says that Michael has been a trailblazer for people with Down syndrome, both during his education in mainstream schools and his employment with IHC.
“Michael has been a great role model and has helped to remove a lot of barriers for people with Down syndrome,” says Ms Porthouse,
“Aside from that, he is also an accomplished musician and his piano performances have been a regular feature during the NZDSA National Achievement Awards at Government House,” says Ms Porthouse, adding that Michael himself was a recipient of the National Achievement Award in 2012.


“Every person with Down syndrome and their families in New Zealand will be extremely proud of Michael’s achievements and it is wonderful to see this recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours.”
Michael represented New Zealand at the World Down Syndrome Conference in Dublin, Ireland, in 2009 to share his story of advocacy and inclusion.
He has been involved with Special Olympics for 32 years, as an athlete, advocate and as a Global Ambassador, and has been working for IHC in the library for almost 27 years, being the helpful voice at the end of line for people looking for resources.
The Special Olympics swimmer and skier says he is very honoured.
“With all the years of Special Olympics it has been the best thing of my sport,” he says.
The NZDSA President says that Michael is yet another example of the amazing things people with Down syndrome can achieve.
“More and more people and organisations are starting to realise what people with Down syndrome are capable off and what a great asset they are to their community.
“Michael has been one of the trailblazers and we are excited to see so many other young people following his footsteps.”

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association congratulates Andrew Oswin for joining the co-design team for Project Mobilise.Project Mobilise was launched recently by the Human Rights Commission to inspire social change.

Over the next few months, Project Mobilise will be working hard to understand attitudes surrounding disability – the stories, beliefs, and assumptions held by New Zealanders.

The project team aims to create a media campaign based on these insights to help people think differently about disability.
Andrew Oswin has been part of the leadership team of the NZSDA self-advocacy group STRIVE for many years.

He has also been an eloquent and passionate advocate for New Zealand people with Down syndrome on many national and international advisory groups.

NZDSA National Executive Officer Zandra Vaccarino has congratulated the Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero for this much-needed initiative to shift and change attitudes towards disability in Aotearoa.

“The NZDSA will be supporting and promoting Project Mobilise as we believe that changing attitudes is crucial for addressing discrimination, so that all people with Down syndrome can enjoy the same rights as all citizens of New Zealand,” says Mrs Vaccarino.

“The NZDSA believes a national media campaign is vital to help people think differently about disability and to celebrate diversity,” says Vaccarino.

She adds that Project Mobilise will create the space for all New Zealanders to reflect on their attitudes and to consider how we might contribute to dismantling barriers that disable people from having full access to their community.

To disrupt harmful narratives and help New Zealanders view disability in an entirely new way
the Human Rights Commission is working with creative agency Curative to better understand the stories, beliefs, and assumptions held by New Zealanders about disabled people and co-design a national campaign strategy to change those attitudes.

Project Mobilise is anchored in co-design, a human rights framework, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The project aims will share power, enable authentic participation, prioritise relationships, and centre the perspectives and realities of disabled people.
Project Mobilise is working collaboratively with the disability sector, and wants the disability community to be a part of Project Mobilise.

Visit www.projectmobilise.co.nz to learn more and find out how you can take part.