When:  Saturday, 9th October 2021

Time:    10am – 11am

Where: Zoom

Who:    Sir Robert Martin

What will he talk about?

From Institution to Knighthood

 

A little more about Sir Robert Martin

Sir Robert has spent his life advocating on behalf of disabled people and in particular people with learning disability, both in New Zealand and around the world

Sir Robert was New Zealand’s nominee for the Committee for the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and was successfully elected to this role in June 2016. He has completed his first four-year term as an Independent Expert and was re-elected for a second term  which started in 2021.

Sir Robert received his knighthood in January 2020 for his achievements and it is believed that he is the first person with a learning disability to have received such an award.

 

 

When:   Thursday,  14th October 

Time:    7pm – 8pm

Where: Zoom

Who:   Erika Butters

What will she talk about?

Supported Decision Making – a Human Right

Everyone has the right to make decisions, and everyone has the right to access support to make those decisions. This workshop will help you understand Supported Decision Making in New Zealand and the rest of the world. It will also help you understand who may require decision making support and give suggestions on how to practice supported decision making. The workshop will also talk about capacity, will and preference, and safeguarding.

A little more about Erika

Erika works as the Director of The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust. She wants all New Zealanders to have their rights and well-being protected and promoted. Erika has worked to make independent advocacy and support for decision making available to all disabled people in New Zealand. Erika works and lives in Wellington.

 

When:  Thursday, 21st October 2021

Time:    7pm-8pm

Where: Zoom

Who:    Dr Mark Sinclair

What will he talk about?
Managing your feelings

A little more about Dr Mark Sinclair

Dr Sinclair is a registered psychologist with 40 years of experience in clinical psychology in New Zealand and Canada. He has worked in a variety of mental health services within the public and private sectors, specializing in developmental disorders and challenging behaviour.

He continues to have a private clinical practice in Auckland and Thames which includes forensic assessment for the Family Court and reports in relation to immigration matters.

 

When:              Thursday, 21st October 2021

Time:                7pm-8pm

Where:             Zoom

Who:                Meet all the Stars

What will they talk about?

They will tell us why they got an award or a nomination for an award?

They will also share with you how they create a great life.

 

Joining this star cast

Libby Hunsdale – actor in the movie Poppy

Michael Holdsworth – member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Rochelle Waters – NZDSA National Achievement Award

Amelia Eades – NZDSA National Achievement Award

Jacob Dombroski – NZDSA National Achievement Award

Luka Willems – nominated for the Attitude Youth Award

Lily Harper -nominated for the Attitude Creative Award

Carlos Biggemann – nominated for the Attitude Creative Award

Bradley Lewis – nominated for the Attitude Enterprise Award

Alfie Linn – nominated for the Attitude Sporting Endeavour Award

 

 

You do not want to miss this.

Make sure you check out the long list of world-leading presenters, who will cover most key topics that may be important to people with Down Syndrome as part of the NZDSA Virtual Down Syndrome Conference.

REGISTER HERE

The NZDSA this month will celebrate its 40th anniversary by hosting the largest Virtual Down Syndrome Conference ever organised in this country, to coincide with World Down Syndrome Month.

The virtual conference will offer a stunning variety of high-profile Kiwi and international expert speakers who will cover a wide range of topics including education, health, speech, relationships, ageing and legal issues.

The conference will have several presentations focused on health with Andrea Simonlehner from Natural Equilibrium doing two sessions on gut health and fussy eaters, while Geraldine Whatnell will share her expertise on growing old with Down syndrome.

One session that will be exciting to parents as well as younger adults with Down syndrome will be relationship expert Dave Hicks talking about the theory and practicalities of getting into a relationship. Dave is likely to become a familiar face on New Zealand television as he was the expert on the upcoming television series Down With Love.

One of the speakers from the United States will be Kavita Krell from Massachusetts General Hospital who will explain how you can develop an innovative online health plan from anywhere in the world, while her colleague Dr Brian Skotko will do a presentation about and for siblings of people with Down syndrome.

REGISTER HERE

The conference will also offer sessions wellbeing, speech therapy, advocacy and educations, so there will be there something for all stages of life and every member of our community.

The conference will also include a number of sessions specifically for people with Down syndrome, so for the full list of those events, please click here (all these sessions are marked in orange below).

The NZDSA has hosted many conferences, seminars and workshops during its history, but geographical and financial restraints often restricted the number of people who were able to attend.

All those barriers have now been removed by modern technology and the new digital skills we have learned during lockdown.

With modern video conferencing technology, there is no reason to miss out so keep an eye on our E-new and Facebook page for upcoming details how to register.

To get all this information, make sure we can send you our newsletters, so please register your details on the NZDSA website FOR FREE, at www.nzdsa.org.nz

Some sessions will be recorded as a future resource, but many others will not, so make sure you do not miss out on the webinars you are interested.

The NZDSA is non-for-profit charity that receives no Government funding and fully depends on grants and donations, so when you register or think the webinars are of value to you and your community, please remember to make a donation, so we can continue to offer these services to raise the awareness and knowledge around Down syndrome.

REGISTER HERE

 

THE FULL PROGRAMME OF THE VIRTUAL DOWN SYNDROME CONFERENCE

Tuesday 5th October, 7pm – 8pm

Bridget Snedden, President of Down Syndrome International(DSi)

Theme: Wellbeing and Rights

Title:  Getting to the good life – The importance of having a vision

Audience:  Everyone

 

Wednesday 6th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dr Mark Sinclair, Private Practice

Theme: Wellbeing

Title: Keeping an Emotional Balance (At home with children and teens)

Audience:   Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday, 7th October, 7pm – 8pm

Trish Grant, Director of Advocacy IHC

Theme: Education and Rights

Title: Are we there yet?

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

Saturday, 9th October, 10am – 11am

Sir Robert Martin

Theme: Rights and Wellbeing

Title: From Institution to Knighthood

Audience: Everyone

 

Tuesday, 12th October , 7pm – 8pm

Erika Butters, Director, The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust

Theme: Rights

Title: Supported Decision Making – a Human Right

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on youth and adults

 

Wednesday, 13th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dr Maree Kirk, Director, STPDS NZ

Theme: Education

Title: Individual Education Plan – The capabilities approach

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

Wednesday, 14th October, 12pm-1pm

Andrea Simonlehner, Natural Equilibrium

Theme: Health

Title: Brain and Gut Health for people with Down syndrome

Please note this session will view the recorded session hosted in September (there will be no Q&A)

It will be beneficial to view this for the session with Andrea on the 27th October

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday, 14th October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Erika Butters, Director, The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust

Theme: Rights

What: Supported Decision Making – a Human Right. 

Audience: People with Down syndrome

 

Saturday, 16th October, 10am – 11am

Dr Brian Skotko,  Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital

and Susan Levine, Co-founder and social worker at Family Resource Associates, Inc.

Theme: Siblings 18+

Title: Adult brothers and sisters of siblings with Down syndrome: Exploring past experiences and current roles

Audience: Siblings 18+

 

Tuesday, 19th October,  7pm – 8pm

Fiona Kenworthy, Speech & language therapist

Clinical Director /Small Talk Therapy

Theme: Speech and Language Therapy

Title: Early literacy skills for children with Down syndrome – Families making a difference

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on early literacy skills (not age specific)

Hosted by UpsideDowns Education Trust and the NZDSA

 

Wednesday, 20th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dave Hicks, Academic Programme Manager – Unitec

Theme: Wellbeing

Title: Relationships – Theories and Practicalities

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday,21st October, 12pm -1pm

Gretchen A. Good, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Massey University and Jane Lee, MSW, Tutor in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Massey University

Theme: Wellbeing and Rights

Title: Parenting during a pandemic:  Have any lessons been learned?

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday 21st October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Dr Mark Sinclair, Private Practice

What:  Managing your feelings

Audience: People with Down syndrome

 

Saturday, 23rd October, 10am – 11am

Kavita Krell, Director of Customer Experience for Down Syndrome Clinic to You (DSC2U)

Theme: Health

Title: DSC2U: An online personal care plan for caregivers and primary care physicians

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals  – all ages

 

Tuesday, 26th October, 7pm – 8pm

Andrea Simonlehner, Natural Equilibrium

Theme: Health

Title: Fussy Eaters

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – relevant for all ages

 

Wednesday, 27th October, 7pm – 8pm

Geraldine (Dina) Whatnell, Nurse Practitioner Mental Health and Addictions Service Palmerston North Hospital

Theme: Health

Title: The Golden Years: Ageing and Down Syndrome

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – focus on adults who are 25+

 

Thursday, 28th October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Libby Hunsdale, Michael Holdsworth, Rochelle Waters, Amelia Eades, Luka Willems, Lily Harper, Carlos Biggemann, Bradley Lewis, Jacob Dombroski, Alfie Linn

What: Meet the Stars!

Audience: People with Down syndrome, but others are welcome to join

 

Saturday, 30th October, 10am – 11am

Dr Maree Kirk, Director, STPDS NZ

Theme: Education/Wellbeing

Title: Making visions work – Social skill development for identity across the lifespan

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

Many familiar faces in the Down syndrome community have been named as finalists in this year’s Attitude Awards to recognise their amazing achievements.

The Down syndrome community has been well presented in five different categories and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner on December 1.

The NZDSA congratulates all the nominees and wishes them all the best for the awards ceremony.

The nominees from the Down syndrome community are:

Attitude Enterprise Award

Bradley Lewis from Invercargill runs his own business, K9 Munchies, making dog treats. Selling online and locally in Invercargill, Bradley is looking to expand his brand nationally to continue the journey to his own financial freedom.

Attitude Youth Award

Luka Willems is on his way to becoming an influencer in his community, to inspire and encourage others. He’s a YouTuber with some of his work being used by local and international Down Syndrome Associations and he represents Canterbury as a Para swimmer.

Attitude Creative Award

Carlos Biggemann is an internationally recognised photographer, who also writes poetry. He’s collaborated with 14 poets to create a book featuring his photography.

Lily Harper’s big passion is acting, recently taking on the lead role in “Up Town Girl”, performing in Palmerston North and Wellington. The show won three awards, with Lily taking the “emerging actor in a play” award.

Attitude Sporting Endeavour Award

Alfie Linn is a popular competitor in the Table Tennis community, and has represented New Zealand at international level. He loves feeling part of a team, is a great sportsman and his attitude to others, no matter who they are, is fair and just and he loves competing at all levels. 

Attitude Community Champion Award

Sarah Ferens as a teenager started a weekly social group for young people with Down syndrome, to help her sister Emma make friends. Using her disability knowledge, she created ‘A Family Collective’ which supports families and their young people to work and live independently.

 

UpsideDowns, New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, and Small Talk Therapy, are proud to bring you this free webinar on speech and language therapy for children and young people with Down syndrome.

Are you looking for ways to support your child’s speech during lockdown?

Are you new to speech and language therapy?

Have you been engaging with speech and language therapy for a long time but are looking for new ways to engage with your child’s communication journey?

Are you frustrated or confused by what public speech therapy is being provided? Are you keen to start with speech and language therapy but don’t know where to begin?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then this webinar is for you!

Fiona Kenworthy, a specialist in speech and language therapy for children with Down syndrome, Sarah Paterson-Hamlin, CEO of UpsideDowns, and Zandra Vaccarino, National Executive Officer of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, are answering questions from over 100 families, followed by a brief presentation by Fiona on some tips and tricks for lockdown SLT.

 

Launching at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, WeThe15 plans to initiate change over the next decade by bringing together the biggest coalition ever of international organisations from the world of sport, human rights, policy, communications, business, arts and entertainment.

At a time when diversity and inclusion are hot topics, the 15% who have a disability want effective change to remove the inequality and inactivity. Like race, gender and sexual orientation, we want to have a movement all persons with disabilities can rally behind. A global movement that is publicly campaigning for disability visibility, inclusion and accessibility.

WeThe15 will shine a light on 15% of the world’s population. It will build greater knowledge of the barriers and discrimination persons with disabilities face on a daily basis at all levels of society. By doing so we will break down these barriers so all persons with disabilities can fulfil their potential and be active and visible members of an inclusive society.

For more information go to: www.wethe15.org

 

 

Amelia Meades was recognised at the National Achievement Awards for her incredible accomplishments in 2019.

 

The year 2019 was most definitely the year of Amelia.

It kicked off in February with Amelia attending a four day “Making it on my own” (MIOMO) course with about 30 other teenagers and young adults.

The course is offered to under 25s and aims to increase independence and support the transition to adulthood and resulted in a noticeable shift in Amelia’s view of herself.

 

But in terms of taking responsibility for her own development, this event was far outshone by Amelia’s decision a few months later to tackle head-on her long-term and debilitating needle phobia. Blood tests, vaccinations, dentists, everything that involved needles was a trial.

With a safari trip to Kenya planned for the end of the year, Amelia undertook a graduated exposure therapy at Anxiety Trust that culminated in a visit to the local doctor’s clinic to get up close and personal with some needles.

Amelia made a conscious decision to take part in the therapy in order to help herself and the therapist said that her engagement with the process was the key factor that led her to the point where she was able to receive her six vaccinations for Kenya without a qualm.  Her family were so proud of her – no more needle phobia for Amelia!

The five-week trip to Kenya and Australia with her family was reward in itself. Glamping in safari conditions and viewing the wonderful animal life.

Fortunately Amelia loves taking photos so she will have memories she can revisit for years to come.

Quickly following on from this though was the most exciting event of the year for Amelia and a significant achievement for a person with Down syndrome.

She was chosen from a large cast of wannabe models to walk in the NZ Fashion Week for an upcoming, edgy label called “Starving Artists Fund”.

To be selected required walking out alone in front of a bank of selectors with clipboards and cameras. Not for the faint hearted, but Amelia strutted her stuff like a pro, both in the casting and again in the fashion show at the Auckland Town Hall a few weeks later.

Subsequently she has had a couple of follow-up gigs, one being an article and photo shoot for Good magazine.  Look out for their September issue.

She also appeared on TV twice and featured in an article about her agent – Grace Stratton from “All is for All” – in the Air New Zealand on-board magazine.

Talk about the lives of the rich and famous!

But the year’s achievements didn’t stop there.  Amelia progressed so well in her weekly yoga classes across the other side of the city – a train and then bus ride away on a Thursday evening – that by the second half of the year she was invited to join the advanced class.

She also completed two silent residential weekend retreats during the year, both focussed on mindfulness through movement meditation.

 

Amelia was invited by Recreate to represent their Moxie produce team with her friend Abigail at the NZ Disability Services conference in Wellington and the two won for best market stall at the conference.

She helped man the merchandise stall at Buddy Walk for the second year running and was on the Sales Team for Moxie at several markets around Auckland.

Amelia also continued to participate in Special Olympics Aquatics twice a week with the Central Auckland team.

Meanwhile there was also the ongoing activity of completing her studies and working.

Amelia graduated at the end of the year from the two-year New Zealand Certificate in Skills for Living and Working programme at Unitec, achieving Merit in every unit.

In 2020 she continues to work part-time as a waitress and is in the pipeline for a second waitressing job.

She volunteers one day a week at the Titirangi Community Art Gallery where she helps mount exhibitions and supervise visitors, and two other days with Recreate’s Moxie programme, both in the garden and in the kitchen.

It’s a busy life!

 

Jacob Dombroski is an incredibly talented young man. James Webber from the Wellington Down Syndrome Association wrote the following nomination to describe Jacob’s achievements.

Jacob is well known in the Wellington region and nationally.

He has a passion for people with extra needs and is keen to advocate for people at a Government level.

Jacob is an actor, dancer, musician and basketball player amongst other talents.

I first met Jacob in 2016 when he was performing in a show that he had written, choreographed and performed, BigJStylez.

My eldest son, sister and I watched Jacob perform. It gave us such hope and joy and made the future of my youngest son seem much brighter amongst all the medical issues and fears for the future.

Jacob went on to win many awards for his show and this led to other acting, dancing and performance opportunities.

Jacob Domboski with Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, right, and NZDSA national executive Zandra Vaccarino.

His acting career became viral when he did a short stint acting on Shortland Street as Winston Kimiora. I’m sure this helped to advocate for people who were born with Down syndrome.

His acting must have been fabulous as he was asked to act again as a barman on Shortland street. There have been many reviews about Jacob and his performance and one described him as “totally a performer who is going to connect to any audience”.

I believe this sums up Jacob well. He definitely connected with the audience when he was asked to speak at the Frances Clarke awards in Wellington in 2019.

During lockdown with Covid 19, Jacob contacted the WDSA chairperson, asking how he could help people with extra needs during this time.

He also created a workout video that he shared with others during COVID.

I don’t know all of Jacob’s story and journey however I am keen to learn more about this amazing young man who inspired me and my whanau when I had a little baby who was starting his journey.

The WDSA is blown away by Jacob’s talent, his empathy for others and his keenness to advocate for many different people.

 

 

 

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.”