FOR years Courtney Stubbins has worked in the disability sector because she has a passion for challenging barriers that block people from being their best.
And that's a passion she brings to CAYAD (Community Action on Youth and Drugs), Tūranga Health.
“If we want to minimise harm we need to take an honest look at the environments young people are in, from home, school and the community to the broader structures of society,” she says.
Courtney’s grateful for the chance to learn from the grassroots actions and initiatives taking place in Tairāwhiti. Since moving here in 2017 Courtney has immersed herself in the community, connecting with schools and youth organisations. “Working with CAYAD’s a new area for me, there’s heaps to learn. Because I’m new here there’s a lot to take in about the people, land, culture and history.”
The CAYAD team supports community-led programmes or projects that address alcohol or drug harm, or promote youth wellbeing in general. Schools, marae and sporting groups are the types of organisations that might access its resources and expertise.
AFTER years of raising her four children, Ema Jones (left) is now sharing her wealth of knowledge with whānau at the Vanessa Lowndes Centre.
VLC helps whānau with mental, physical or intellectual disabilities build confidence, perhaps to the point where they are job-ready. And for “Aunty Em” that means tackling the basics.
While VLC offers programmes from creativity to cooking, horticulture to health, her job as kaiāwhina involves delivering modules around personal hygiene and running a home. “It is all things we do in our everyday lives – having regular showers, keeping the house clean – and we tend to take it for granted that everybody else does the same,” she says.
“But some of our whānau require a bit of help in learning the skills needed to live independently. We know what their strengths are, we know they can live well, it's just a matter of providing the necessary support and guidance.”
Born in Tokomaru Bay, Ema Jones (Ngati Porou) brings a broad range of experience to her role at VLC, which has nearly 40 whānau on its books. ”
She's a big fan of hunting, fishing and camping; an experienced netball player; and, when she gets the chance, loves to read. She goes to great lengths to do her job driving more than 70 kms each way daily from Matawai, where her husband manages a farm. “This work is perfect for me,” she says. “It means I can be 'Aunty Em', not just to my own whānau, but to the whānau here at VLC.
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