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.”

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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.

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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.

 

A time-defying team of Special Olympics footballers from Hawke’s Bay this  is set to qualify for an incredible eighth National Summer Games.

The Hawke’s Bay football team – with players ranging from 71-year old Danny Dromgool to 9-year-old Dominic Hoskins – have been a regular feature at the National Games for longer than most can remember.

The National Summer Games are the four-yearly pinnacle event for Special Olympics New Zealand with nearly 2000 athletes and coaches from all corners of the country expected to compete across 11 sports at eight venues in Hamilton.

Zac Drake in full flight for Hawke’s Bay.

Coach Jack Lowe has lost count how many National Games the squad has attended ever since Shayne Crabtree and himself put their hands up to help out a few youngsters with intellectual disabilities who wanted to play football, now close to 30 years ago.

“I am not sure we if we are the longest running team in the country, but we are definitely the happiest,” says Jack who had no other involvement in football and never planned to dedicate half his life to Special Olympics.

“But once you put your hand up for Special Olympics, you seem to be part of it until you die. The athletes rely so much on you and become such a big part of your life,” says Jack, who has enjoyed every minute of it.

The Hawke’s Bay team this weekend competes at the regional Special Olympics football tournament in Manawatu to ensure all the players have officially qualified to compete in Hamilton in December.

Jack rattles off endless heart-warming tales about his team competing around New Zealand and Australia, including one Trans-Tasman event in which his team struggled to score.

“We were badly losing each game, but nobody cared. One game we finally got close to scoring, but our striker’s bootlaces came loose.

“Instead of stopping the ball, the Victorian goalkeeper bend down to do up our player’s laces. But even with the goalkeeper busy with the laces, we still couldn’t score. That was a classic Special Olympics moment.”

The coaches are clearly hooked on the joy their players get from the game and the unique moments Special Olympics events provide.

And they are not afraid to push the boundaries, trying to find a place for any player, whatever their disability.

“A few years ago, one new player insisted he wanted to be in goal, but when he walked onto the field, we realised he was blind. Every time the ball hit him he’d would ask if he had saved it.

“Unfortunately he started to get a bit angry every time the ball hit him too hard, so we had to try someone else,” says Jack, who has a daughter swimming in Special Olympics, but because of his footballing commitments he has not seen her compete for eight years.

Jack says his charges can’t wait to get to Hamilton and reconnect with the close friends they have made competing around the country.

“When the teams get together it is hugs and high-fives all around when they see old friends, old girlfriends or former boyfriends.

“The National Games are very social and some athletes are convinced they hook up with three or four new girlfriends in that one week,” laughs Jack, who along with Shayne is slowly thinking about retiring from coaching and has started to bring in some younger coaching talent.

“My favourite moment? When they get off the bus after a three-hour bus ride and they are all very tired, but still all make sure they thank you for coaching them.”

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!