Self Advocacy

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.

The STRIVE team will introduce themselves.

Alexandra Hewitt

My name is Alexandra Hewitt  and I live in Invercargill.

I work at Tiwai smelters.

The important people in my life are my family and friends.

My hobbies consist of spending time with friends, Kapahaka, walking and making people aware of what we do at STRIVE.

I also like watching movies and TV programs and my goal for the future is to get my driving licence. I am studying the Road Code now, so one day I can drive about everywhere.

My advocacy message is that I believe in all people with diverse disabilities to be given the chance to have part time or full time paid employment.

Edward Borkin

My name is Edward Borkin and I am a member of STRIVE.

I  live at home with my Mum and Dad. My two younger brothers are married and have left home.

I have a job and work 5 days a week. I have been a trolley assistant at Pak n Save in Botany since August 2001.

I enjoy swimming, table tennis and bowling. I have won a gold medal in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece for 100 meter backstroke.

That also earned me a National Achievement Award in 2012.

I enjoy watching TV and in particular Coronation Street and Home and Away.

I am also an advocate for people with disabilities. I do public talks like “Success in Schools” which helps teachers to understand what life is like with Down Syndrome.

I would like to tell everyone to respect and include people with Down Syndrome.

I think the biggest misunderstanding people have about people like me is that they are nervous about what I might do until they get to know me and about whether I am able to do things and how they might even talk to me.

Andrew Oswin

My name is Andrew Oswin and I live with my family. I started to attend a leadership development self-advocacy camp which the IHC hosted in Christchurch 2008. I learned a lot about how to be an advocate, ambassador, public speaker and leader to speak up for myself and other people with Down Syndrome.

Being part of STRIVE is very important to me because I get to meet and make new friendships with New Zealanders who have Down syndrome, it gives me the opportunity to attend workshops, annual general meetings and forums.

I feel that I am accepted, included and valued in the community from being involved with STRIVE and it is the thing I enjoy the most.

I have got two part-time jobs. I work for Parent to Parent Greater Canterbury and I am a Regional Administrator. In my role, I get to do computer and database administration, photocopying, scanning, filing in alphabetical order, confidential and general recycling, to attend meetings and functions.

Sometimes I will attend the Disability Support Services Consumer Consortium representing the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association. My responsibility is to represent the Down syndrome community and to type up a report on a laptop computer which I have been provided with.

For voluntary work I go to the Harakeke Club to help the elderly who suffer from Dementia. I help in the kitchen and sometimes I get to assist them with their activities and music entertainment.

I think the biggest misunderstanding for society has about people with Down syndrome is fearing the unknown. At school students with Down syndrome must have a daily routine and be involved in activities.

Duncan Armstrong

My name is Duncan Armstrong and I live in Wellington.

I live with my Mum and Dad. My sister Zoe has gone flatting. I have lots of cousins and I like to catch up with them.

It’s important to have a job, be independent and stand up for disabled people’s rights.

I have represented the NZDSA on the Ministry of Health Consumer Consortium and the Wellington Youth Council.

My passion is performing arts. I am a dancer, an actor and a muso.

Caroline Quick

My name is Caroline Quick I am from Christchurch.

I live with my flatmate.

I work as a volunteer at a rest home and on a Monday I help with different activities.

I love cooking, hanging out with my friends, shopping, going to the movies and being with my boyfriend. I love going on holidays and trips away.

I have been with STRIVE for a long time now and I got chosen to be on the leadership group.

Advocacy is important to me. I believe all people with learning disabilities got a powerful voice and dedicated beliefs.

I love being part of STRIVE because people with Down Syndrome are amazing and do amazing things in their lives. I believe all people with Downs Syndrome are powerful and amazing.

Erin Smith

My name is Erin Smith and I live in Kamo, Whangarei, Northland.

I work at Whangarei Base Hospital as an administrator of Human Resources Department.

My interests and hobbies are: ‘Mindfulness’, colouring, crosswords, shopping, walking, dancing, music, youth club and my baby nephew.

The STRIVE Funshops have helped me to become more confident in my work and in my life.

I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone.

I was really shy talking to groups and now am much more relaxed, I have had to consider other people’s points of view. I really enjoy meeting up with the
other STRIVE members. We are now close friends.

I am a Strive Rep to the NZDSA Committee. I use the skills I’ve learnt at workshops to support and advocate for young people with DS in my community.

I believe people with Down Syndrome should speak up more for themselves.