Before Annie met her Local Area Coordinator (LAC), she felt she was missing out on being connected to her community. With her LAC’s help, Annie now volunteers at indoor netball games, thrives in an aqua jogging class, and has someone who can walk alongside her.
Seventy trophies used to be all Annie had to remind her of her years of playing indoor netball.
But now she can finally say she is back in the game.
She volunteers at the Tauranga and Harbourside indoor netball clubs, where she collects fees, ticks off names, puts entry stamps on the players and lays out the bibs. It is something her Local Area Coordinator, Jenny Dawber, has helped arrange.
‘Jenny talked about what my interests were … and how we could get me back into the community. It’s been so great going to indoor netball … and they’ve really welcomed me. It’s sort of made those connections with people again.’
Annie decided to investigate the Local Area Coordination programme so she could reconnect with her community.
‘[I wanted] to get a bit more active … and sometimes I just don’t know where to look for things.’
About six years ago, Annie was left with permanent disabilities in the form of neurological/sensory impairment. She also had to undergo extensive treatment for her health issues.
‘At first it just revolves around all your treatment and you just have to be in that zone, accepting that everybody’s doing everything for you and it’ll come right, but then when it doesn’t come right and you can’t get back into society as you normally would expect, then you’re sort of left in limbo.’
That’s where Jenny came in.
‘It wasn’t about me coming in, thinking, ‘what does Annie need, how can I get a solution for her’,’ Jenny says. ‘It was just about chatting with her and coming up with some ideas and not necessarily having all the information but being able to have that mandate to go and find out.’
Volunteering at indoor netball games was the first step for Annie, but it wasn’t a one-way street, Jenny says.
‘[It was great] for Annie to be able to see, that actually this is not an inconvenience [for people], this is not them doing charity or anything, this is something that they’re really excited about.’
To keep fit, Annie takes part in an aqua jogging class four times a week. She is also hoping to get in touch with a dietician soon.
Annie says her connection with Jenny has made her happier and given her something to look forward to.
One day, she plans to tackle writing. ‘I used to have a pet minding business and I love cats and I see the crazy things that they do and I think I’d be able to write books about cats quite well.’
The Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People is a new way of assisting disabled people to achieve their goals and have more choice and control over supports and funding in their everyday lives.
Local Area Coordinators walk alongside disabled people and their families to help them plan for a good life. They help disabled people to reach their goals by providing them with information and building relationships with the community. They also assist communities to include and welcome disabled people.