We are privileged to work with organisations that really make a difference – ConneXu is one of them. Rachel’s recent article celebrate’s the achievements of Kevin, who, with the support of ConneXu, is overcoming many of the challenges of his disability and living a more independent life.
The article ran in the Te Awamutu Courier:
Many of our readers will recognise the friendly face of Kevin McNae, well-known personality and trolley collector at Pak’n’Save Te Awamutu.
Kevin has been working at Pak’n’Save for two years and during this time he has built up a strong rapport with many of the customers. Pak’n’Save Store Manager David Jones says that the store is extremely happy with Kevin’s work. “He goes out of his way to make people happy and he has a great work ethic,” says Mr Jones.
What you probably won’t know is Kevin’s story.
Kevin is supported by his very caring family and ConneXu, an organisation that supports people with disabilities. And over the past few years his independence and personal achievements have come a long way. For years, he spent much of his time at Enrich+ community hubs, where people with disabilities go to learn new skills. However, when he started working with ConneXu and moved into a local residential house, Kevin wanted to develop more independence – to have a job like other people and be able to get around by himself.
Community facilitators Bryce Korau and Levanne Croasdale and the team at ConneXu started to work with Kevin and his family to see what was possible.
The journey to confidence and independence started when he got a job a couple of years ago, however, Kevin also wanted to have the independence of travelling to and from work by himself. He already had his full driver’s licence, but buying and running a car was going to be too expensive – so Kevin, his family and the ConneXu team came up with the new goal of getting a scooter.
There were a number of steps needed to get there. The first was to buy safety gear, the second to figure out where the scooter was going to be stored, third to find and buy a scooter, and last to get some lessons and make sure he was safe on the road.
With those goals in mind, they were very focused on ticking each of them off. Safety gear was saved up for and purchased. To house the scooter, one weekend Kevin, his community facilitator and his flatmates built a kit-set shed in the backyard of their flat. Then Mr Korau found a scooter on TradeMe in Palmerston North that Kevin was very happy with. It was a yellow nifty 50 – and Kevin was excited and proud to see it when it arrived in a crate.
Lessons were next on the agenda. It took about a month of lessons to build up his confidence, before everyone determined that he was safe to travel on the road. With much expectation, on the day of his maiden journey, the facilitators followed Kevin in a car at a safe distance behind him. They were so proud that he did it – and he had looked like a pro the whole way.
Kevin now regularly takes his scooter to work, and loves the independence he has gained.
He is proud to have achieved what would previously have seemed impossible tasks, and unlike many of us, doesn’t take for granted the freedom that travelling independently gives him as he zips along on his own bike on his way to his own job.
Te Awamutu Courier, Thursday, 23rd March 2017.