Stories from people we have mentored
Nigel – finding the key to open up his world
Many of us take our lives for granted; the ease with which we move around and interact with people in shops and on streets, and form relationships with people at work and school – most of us mingle actively in the community, communicating our thoughts, wants and needs, whether we think about it or not.
Imagine then a life where you preferred not to talk to people. Where verbal communication was difficult for you, and you had never spoken to some of the people who have supported you, despite the fact you had known them for many years. How would those support people know what was important to you in life – both overall, as well as on a daily basis?
Now add to that the fact that you are also hypersensitive to your environment; physical contact with anyone who you don’t know well is very uncomfortable, severely limiting your interaction with people within the community. Imagine that this was all that you had ever experienced, so you were happy enough in your world of non-verbal communication and the security of familiar surroundings, but you had never known the pleasure of doing everyday things, in everyday places with everyday people. …In fact, for Nigel, his life was a bit like a self-imposed bubble, until his world opened up with Interactionz’s support. Read more…
Blossom – opportunities bloom
Life is really blooming for Blossom these days. Embracing her independence, she has a new enthusiasm for life as she realises that more things are possible and available. Blossom, now finds herself in the unexpected position of being a largely independent woman, who catches up with her friends around the community, attends art classes – even planning to sell her work, and has a mobile phone which she uses to stay in touch with her family.
You may presume that this is no great feat – that this describes many women around the community. However, when you then consider that Blossom comes from a long connection with facilitated support, including attending hub centres three days a week – you begin to see the beauty and importance of the growth process she has been through recently. Read more…
Kemara – embracing his heritage
To have pride in ourselves and a sense of identity is something we all strive for, and for many, it is hard to achieve. However, this vision is becoming a reality for Kemara – since he started planning his future with Interactionz mentors last year, he has been able to achieve levels of independence and self-worth than he could not have dreamed of only months ago.
Much of this monumental change within Kemara’s life can be attributed to Interactionz’ philosophy of empowering the people they mentor. Their aim is to give their customers the ability to run their own lives, through helping them acquire the skills and confidence to do so and connecting them with everyday people in their communities.
The huge changes in Kem’s life started when, with the guidance of his Interactionz mentors, he completed a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). Read more…
Luke – confidence & communication skills
Luke* (not his real name) used to spend his life in isolation. He was painfully shy, avoiding contact with others; instead keeping himself in self-imposed exile in his bedroom. Like other teenagers, he would keep himself busy playing video games, however he far preferred the company of technology to interacting with people in the outside world. His relationship with his family had suffered because his difficulty with communication had made him frustrated and angry – leading to arguing and tension in his home. He was unhappy, as were his family, but no one could see a way out… Until they did.
Luke had little trust for people, but over several months of working with Interactionz, he had slowly developed a trusting respect for Andrew (an Interactionz mentor). Together, Andrew and Luke’s family decided that more was possible than what facilitated care had been able to give to Luke. Read more…
Margaret – mastering independent travel
All her life, Margaret has challenged expectations. She learned to read when she started school, and by age six could recognise more than 50 words. Two years ago, Margaret left home to live in a Community Living house with two flatmates. Neither of these achievements would have been considered possible when Margaret, who has Down Syndrome, was born in 1970.
When she was born, Margaret’s parents were encouraged to put her in an institution, which they firmly refused to do. As a child, Margaret attended mainstream schools and was partially integrated into the mainstream schooling system. As a young adult Margaret worked at a sheltered workshop run by Lifestyle Trust (later to become Interactionz), where she worked for two to three days each week until the workshop transitioned into a vocational service in the early 2000’s. Read more…
Mark – on the PATH to independence & happiness
In five years Mark’s* (not his real name) life journey has seen a significant turn-around. When he originally came to Interactionz he struggled with managing his temper and self-control when things angered or disappointed him. In fact, managing the dynamic of Mark reacting physically to such situations meant that he required constant one-to-one active supervision, as an approved restraint technique had been frequently used in his last environment to mitigate what could be dangerous behaviour.
As you can imagine, this limited how his whole life was approached; including his choice of activities, contact with the wider community, resultant relationships with others, and opportunities for developing life skills. This contrasts starkly with the freedom of opportunity and enjoyment now open to Mark in a life where he is independently making his way around the community, forming relationships with people and volunteering to help others. Read more…
Tevita – a man with a plan
Many young men grow up dreaming of becoming like their Dad, and Tevita is not any different. He dreamt of following his Dad’s shared interest in music, having a paying job and being able to be proud of his contribution to the community. To be a man of mana.
However, things were not working out how Tevita had hoped. Tevita and his family didn’t want him to be segregated from the community, and wanted to make sure that he had access to opportunities that other kids had growing up. For this reason, he had attended mainstream high school Fairfield College, and had always lived at home rather than at a residential service. After high school, he had transitioned to the vocational services at Interactionz, but had started relying on hub services more and more – in fact, his dependence on these had increased from two days a week to five. And he wasn’t motivated or content with this situation – he just didn’t see any alternative.
That’s when Interactionz stepped in and worked with Tevita and his supportive family to develop a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). Read more…