Strong Voices

Empowered Lives

November 25, 2022

We are heading rapidly towards the end of year – the weather is supposedly warming up (though I’m writing this in Wellington, where November is notoriously windy and disappointing) and many of us are dreaming about holidays ahead.

March 24, 2022

Dairy farmers are keeping a dream alive for Karen Chapman, who grew up on a dairy farm in the small Waikato settlement of Otaua and has only ever wanted to milk cows.

Her dream looked pretty hopeless because by the time Karen was 14, both her Dad and Mum, Noel and Olive Chapman, had died, the farm had changed hands, and in 1978 Karen had moved into IHC residential care in Pukekohe.

February 28, 2022

Young Porirua people charged with offences no longer have to stand in the dock while lawyers and judges use language they can’t understand and make rules they are unable to follow.

For the past two years Porirua District Court has been trying a new approach for young offenders designed to make their first court appearance also their last court appearance.

This involves taking 18 to 25-year-olds out of the usual District Court and providing extra support to identify any health needs or disabilities they may have, adapting an approach used in the Youth Court.

February 28, 2022

Patrick Williams had always slept well, until that night in May last year when he couldn’t sleep at all. His parents Julie-Ann and Raymond didn’t know what the problem was.

“Eventually he said, ‘It’s sore. I can’t lie on my side’,” Julie-Ann says. “He showed me this half-tennis-ball-size lump in his groin.”

Patrick was in hospital that night and the next day the family was given the diagnosis. “We had a meeting with the doctor, and he said it is looking like testicular cancer that has spread,” she says.

February 28, 2022

The next time you are sitting behind a big rig on the highway, take a look at the tarpaulin covering its load. It might be a Kiwi Tarp, held together thanks to the hard work of Brittany and Anthony.

Brittany Hoyle from Maungaturoto, a small Northland town, has just landed a permanent job with Kiwi Tarp, a manufacturer of retractable truck tarpaulins. She started with the company on work
experience in 2020, and has become an essential part of the team, putting together hardware and bolt kits for the guys out on the road installing the truck tarpaulins.

February 28, 2022

Who cares for the carers? The people who do the best job are those walking in the same shoes.

IHC’s i-Volunteer programme has tapped into a largely silent group of people – the family carers – and found people looking for connection and friendship.

i-Volunteer is a one-to-one friendship programme that links people with intellectual disabilities and family carers with friends who they can connect with online or by phone.

February 28, 2022

Courtney Ratana has his first job at the age of 40. He started in January as a pool attendant at the Lido Aquatic Centre in Palmerston North.

He works there every Monday. “I have got a top and I have got a badge,” he says. Both are important to Courtney because they identify him as a member of the Lido team. He will be paid and there is every chance and every hope that his hours will increase.

February 28, 2022

IHC Association member Doreen Barns wondered what had happened when she had a call just before Christmas from a reporter from the Whanganui Chronicle.

But it was far from bad news. Doreen had been named the Whanganui Chronicle Person of the Year for 2021 for bringing some joy into the lives of local people with intellectual disabilities. “It was amazing. I felt quite honoured, but it wasn’t all my own work,” she says.

That seems to be part of her success. She motivates people to help her make things happen.

February 28, 2022

No matter where you live in the country, you have some friends in high places in Wellington.

The team in the IHC Library on the 14th floor of a Willis Street building is ready to connect with anyone with a question about intellectual disability, autism or other developmental disability.

Until recently the librarians have been voices on a phone or names on an email. But lockdowns have brought them into the limelight of Facebook interviews.

February 28, 2022

TVNZ’s new dating show Down for Love is set to screen soon on TV2.

Filmed by Attitude Pictures, Down for Love follows six young adults with Down syndrome on 
their quest for romance. Finding soulmates is top of their list and the series follows them from Rainbow’s End in Auckland to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, and mini golf to a romantic harbour cruise. 

February 28, 2022

Autism New Zealand has launched an online tool that supports autistic people looking to get COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Autism New Zealand Chief Executive Dane Dougan says Vaximate, a series of digital guides, takes people through the process so they feel comfortable. 

“Two of the most common reasons we hear that autistic people are resistant to getting a vaccination are needle phobia and having to navigate an unfamiliar environment.