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.

 

 

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.”

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.”

My name is Edward Borkin and I have always lived with Mum and Dad, but I was independent when they went away.

I have been working at Pak n Save Botany for the last 19 years as a trolley boy.

I am also a member of STRIVE which consists of members with Down syndrome who help to advocate for people with disabilities. I enjoy being part of it and helping others with disabilities.

Another thing that I am involved with is Special Olympics. I participate in ten-pin bowling, swimming and table tennis.

I have recently moved into a flat with David, he has a disability too. We get on like a house on fire!

We share the chores and help each other. We also share some of the same interests like Coronation Street and music.

I have a support worker and try to be as independent as possible. I do need some help with cooking as it’s not really my forte.

I’m learning to catch the bus to work which will help me to be even more independent.

I’m really enjoying flatting!

Amber Ranson and her fellow cast from the short film Peninsula, will soon be shining on the silver screens of New York City when the New Zealand production makes its official world premiere at the high-profile Tribeca film festival.

Producer Scott Flyger said the team was “thrilled” that Peninsula on Friday was officially selected in the shorts category of Tribeca’s 20th anniversary festival, which runs from June 9 -20.

“For an independent film of modest means to be selected by one of the world’s top tier festivals is no mean feat,” says Flyger.

The short-film was written by Fiona McKenzie and filmed in Banks Peninsula in 2019, and was set to feature at overseas film festivals last year, which had to had to be delayed due to Covid.

“Our cast, crew and supporters are very much part of this little film’s success and Fiona and myself thank you all,” says Flyger

McKenzie had worked with Amber from Rakaia, south of Christchurch, in acting classes and said she had written the story with Amber in mind.

“​Amber’s a strong performer and a strong character. I knew she was a strong enough person to enter a film set without blanching,” McKenzie said in an interview last year after filming was completed.

“Also, when people see Amber in this film they’ll think it’s a film about Down syndrome, which it’s not. I am so over these things having to be about disability just because people involved are disabled. Can’t we move on?”

Amber’s boisterous persona and sense of humour lit up the movie set and she said the film was “a piece of cake”.

“In one scene my character had to be dancing, so the crew put on Thunderstruck by AC/DC – one of my favourites. I busted the moves out and then off camera the whole crew was dancing with me.”

 

 

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) is applauding the Government’s decision that will allow people with Down syndrome to get access to their Kiwisaver before 65 years.

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, David Clark yesterday announced the variety of conditions under the new KiwiSaver withdrawal category, which also includes cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

NZDSA President Kim Porthouse says that this decision is a victory for the rights of the disabled. This common-sense decision  gives working people with Down syndrome the opportunity to enjoy their hard-earned Kiwisaver when they are still fit to do so.

“Whilst the life expectancy of an average person with Down syndrome is increasing each year, it is currently between 50 and 60 years meaning many  are not able to wait until 65 to start their retirement, so this decision allows people with life-shortening conditions to enjoy their Kiwisaver when they are ready.”

Mrs Porthouse says the New Zealand disability sector owes a huge deal of gratitude to Tim Fairhall and his mother Joan who convinced Parliament to introduce Kiwisaver exemptions for people with certain conditions.

“Tim is an inspiration to everyone in the Down syndrome and wider disability community for his vision and bravery and I can hardly express how proud and thankful we all are for Tim and Joan for bringing this injustice to the attention of the Government,” says Mrs Porthouse.

Tim confronted the Select Committee in 2019, with the support of IHC and Dr Claire Matthews from Massey’s Business School to argue how the old withdrawal rules disadvantaged people like him.

Mrs Porthouse says that the Kiwisaver decision is a significant step towards equality for people with disabilities  to enjoy the same quality and benefits of life as other New Zealanders.

“While we celebrate today, there are still plenty of other issues we need to address to remove the barriers that stop people with disabilities enjoying a full and good life,” says Mrs Porthouse.

“As long as people like Tim and others in our community keep challenging these barriers, we can create a community that is truly inclusive.”

For more information please contact NZDSA Communications Advisor Coen Lammers on 021-730239

Each edition, CHAT 21 focuses on one region and this time JO MORRISON from the Northland Down Syndrome Support Group tells us about what’s happening in the Far North. 

Since its inception in the 1990s, Northland Down Syndrome Support Group’s kaupapa has been able to fill the gaps and meet the needs of people with Down syndrome and their whānau across Tai Tokerau/Northland.   

Started by parents who wanted to connect themselves and their families with others in similar situations, the group has grown over the decades. Those original children are now in their late twenties and thirties; they and their families are now experienced guides for the new whānau who join our community each year. 

After many years as a charity, Northland Down Syndrome Support Group became a charitable trust in 2017.  Its Board of Trustees currently comprises four mums who organise and run all events and activities as unpaid volunteers.   

Our Chairperson and NZDSA Committee Representative is Bev Smith. She is part of the community nursing service and mum to Erin who has Down syndrome who is in her 30s, works for Northland DHB and is a member of STRIVE.   

Our Secretary and Coordinator is Kathryn Sadgrove. She has a background in transition and advocacyand a strong voice on consumer panels for Northland DHB.  Her son, Thomas, has Down syndrome and is in his late 20s and loves to go fishing.  

Social group GreatM8s celebrating St Patricks Day in Northland.

Jo Morrison is Treasurer and Education Adviser.  She has a background as a secondary school teacher and senior leader and recently completed a Master of Education exploring how children with Down syndrome are being supported in a small number of mainstream Northland schools.  Her daughter, Lucy, has Down syndromeis seven years old and attends her local primary school.   

Fiona Rowse is our fourth trustee.  She also has a background as a secondary school teacher and is currently a guidance counsellor.  Her daughter, Freedom, has Down syndrome.  Now in her 30s, Freedom lives independently and contributes her voice to youth councils in the Whangārei area.   

We also have three Officers of the Trust: Erin and Freedom, plus Karen Tucker who has served on the committee since its inception, holding the role of Treasurer for over a decade.  She is mum to Daniel, now in his twenties, who loves to sing and has his own very definite sense of style (as those of you who know him can attest!) 

  

Arlo at Flipout.

To fill the gaps and meet the needs, Northland Down Syndrome Support Group provides regular activities and events to support the growth of our community and the building of a sense of belonging within its members. 

From the birth (or even at pre-birth diagnosis) of a new baby with Down syndrome, Kathryn is available to welcome, support and offer a listening ear and reassurance to families.  When they are ready, she connects them up with other parents/carers of babies or young children with Down syndrome in their area to facilitate mutual support.   

We run two monthly activities that children with Down syndrome, their siblings and whānau can attend.  On the first Sunday of each month, we spend an hour together at FlipOut Whangārei.   

Lucy and big sister Eva at WAG.

On the third Sunday of each month, we go to Whangārei Academy of Gymnastics for an hour of gym fun followed by a shared kai.  Both of these activities are free of charge and we are incredibly grateful for the supports and discounted rates we receive from these two venues. 

Adolescents and adults can also attend the FlipOut sessions and also have their own social club, GreatM8s.  This is a group for people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities and has been going for many years.   

They have their own Facebook group and meet fortnightly for crafts, movies, ten pin bowling and meals out.  Sometimes they have visiting speakers; recently they met with Emily Henderson, Whangārei’s new MP! 

GreatM8s meet local MP Emily Henderson.

We also support our children and young people with Down syndrome at school by providing professional development workshops at the beginning of each year to teaching staff across the region.   

Working in close partnership with local Ministry of Education Learning Support teams, we have trained over a hundred teachers, teacher aides, and SENCOs in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, and Whangārei over the last three years. 

The population of Tai Tokerau/Northland is widespread, making it a real challenge for our families from further afield to meet up.   

With this in mind, we have a very active Facebook group that keeps us all connected and we run two annual events that encourage our Down syndrome community of all ages to get together.  These are the Christmas Party and the Hātea Loop Walk in Whangārei for World Down Syndrome Day.  

Karen and Daniel Tucker at the Hatea Loop Walk during WDSD 2019.

For the last two years, the Christmas Party has been held at Tikipunga High School Hall, with a barbecue lunch provided by Rapid Relief Team, and entertainment and hands-on activities provided by Circus Kumerani.  Santa visits too!   

So, we all leave at the end with a gift for the children, a nice full tummy, and a big smile.  

The Hātea Loop Walk to celebrate WDSD was first held in 2019 and attended by over 230 people.  A number of local businesses supported us by providing refreshments and prizes.   

Sadly, due to lockdown, the 2020 walk was cancelled.  Instead, we took WDSD2020 online and shared photos of ourselves dressed up on our Facebook group page and raised money through an online auction. We’re hoping to be back walking the Loop again to celebrate WDSD2021!  

We couldn’t do any of this work without our small team of hardworking volunteers, the funding provided by COGS and Lottery Communities, and all the local businesses who support our activities and events.  

Thank you, all of you!! 

Several players with Down syndrome recently featured in New Zealand’s first fully disabled rugby team in Christchurch.

The team is called Polar Bears and is part of High Schools Old Boys’ and an international organisation called Tri Trust Rugby.

The team has 20 players with intellectual and/or physical disabilities and are aged between 12 and 40.

After months of training, the players were buzzing to take the field, along with ‘enablers’ who helped facilitate the game to get everyone involved.

The team’s ultimate goal is to have other teams to play against domestically, and one day internationally.

The STRIVE self-advocacy team had another busy year and even the  lockdown could not stop their work.

STRIVE is a team of people with Down Syndrome who are a members advisory and leadership group who advise and support the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association board, and are ambassadors and advocates for people with Down Syndrome.

Judging by the STRIVE report to the AGM recently, the STRIVE team has developed its skills and influence significantly during 2019-2020.

The team regularly meets for Funshop, which are workshops with different topics, where guest speakers share their expertise with the young ambassadors.

The past year, the meetings covered Research, Advocacy, Writing Reports, Tips for Public Speaking and developing a Succession Plan.

This final subject is particularly important as some of the STRIVE team have been in their role for several years, and may want a change, while it is also important to get new people involved with fresh energy and ideas.

Once Covid 19 started affecting our day to day lives and New Zealand went into lockdown, the STRIVE team started using Zoom meetings.

The group got together on eight occasions between April and June to share their Covid 19 experiences and continue their other work.

Aside from sharing ideas with each other, the group has been very active in the wider community on behalf of the NZDSA.

Andrew Oswin attended the Disability Consumer Consortium in Wellington, Edward Borkin presented to Auckland Timber Industry as well as the Auckland Success in Schools workshops, Erin Smith was a Support Buddy on the Youth Development Camp and Andrew presented at a meeting of Down Syndrome Australia.

The group worked with the Health And Disability Commission on the script for digital resources to help people with disabilities, in which Duncan Armstrong featured as the lead actor.

On the international stage, STRIVE was part of the a feedback group for the Down Syndrome International research on Covid 19, as well being part of a disabled person-led monitoring programme  in Health and Wellbeing by the Donald Beasley Institute.

The STRIVE members have made huge progress as a group but are also proud of the successes they have enjoyed individually.

“On the 13th October 2020 I received and Achievement Award for the outstanding artistic achievement from Arts Access Aotearoa,” said Duncan Armstrong.

“I am taking up a leadership role in the kapa haka group in Invercargill and will be performing alongside other people with Down syndrome from the Invercargill Down Syndrome Group,” said Alexandra Hewitt.

Edward Borkin said will be going flatting which is a goal he has had before he even joined STRIVE, while Caroline Quick is a member of the EGL regional leadership group in Christchurch as one of three disabled representatives.

Caroline is also a member of the Disability Advisory Group for the Christchurch City Council, for which she is paid  a meeting fee.

In the far north,  Erin Smith is a youth leader in the Great Mates Social group.

“I am still a member of the Northlands DSA committee and I continue to enjoy my dance classes.  I have done training workshops at work and I am helping with the induction training at work and doing meet and greets,” says Erin.

Andrew Oswin said he really enjoys being a self-advocate and a member of STRIVE.

“I am happy and privileged and to have made a commitment of service to the Down syndrome community and country of New Zealand.”