Life is certainly not boring!
My last blog was specifically written about what was on my mind after a challenge was issued by some in the disability community, that we need more people to step up and take some initiative in speaking our own stories. I will get back to this later in this post but I just want to let you know how the rest of my week went.

On Monday morning I was planning on having a pretty quiet day. I woke up drank coffee, had breakfast and took ADNZ Ben for a walk. Logged onto Facebook after I had walked ADNZ Ben to just have a look around in some of the groups I am part of. Opened the Te Araroa group to find a post from a mother who had received a SPOT “help” email from her daughter that had only been posted a few minutes before I had logged on.
For those that do not know what a SPOT is, it is a satellite tracking system. It has several buttons on it; a “SOS/911” button that if SHTF and is pressed sends a signal to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center who then contacts the appropriate local authority, an “OK” button that sends a preset email to let people know that you are ok, and a “Help” button which sends a preset email message to say that it is not life or death but the person carrying the SPOT may need assistance.
I tried to ring the phone number Luiza had provided a handful of times and had no response, which I wasn’t entirely surprised about as Te Araroa has many “dead zones” for cellphone coverage. I then rang “111” to notify Search and Rescue. I think the woman on the other end of the phone thought I was making it up, as the co-ordinate from the SPOT was somewhere in the Far North as far as I could tell, I live in Palmerston North which is about 2/3 of the North Island away.  As I spoke to the Communications Center (Comms) I had been messaging Luiza to discover that she was in Russia and spoke no English and had been using google translate to find out what was going on with her daughter.  I couldn’t even start to imagine what she was going through being on the other side of the world and receiving a “help” message from her daughter.  Other group members joined in the conversation to help reassure Luiza and some who information on Valeria also contacted Comms with the job number I had been provided. Search and Rescue teams were deployed and found her mid-afternoon. Turns out Valeria had a bit of a rough day with wet track conditions and with the weather turning bad had decided to stop at a shelter that one of the land owners had put in for Te Araroa walkers to use.
I’m really glad I rang the call through and that Valeria is safe and well.  However it got me thinking. To me it highlighted a few issues from my Bushcraft Instructors perspective.  Firstly that people need to learn how to use their devices properly before you head out, secondly, to be very clear in the processes that you want your email contacts to use if you hit the “help” button and if you are travelling out of country to find someone more local as your “help” contact. Thinking of these things could have prevented a very stressed mother and although Search and Rescue would rather get a call and find it was a mistake, it could have saved then some time and resources by not needing a deployment.

On Tuesday the Disabled Person’s representatives on the Regional Leadership Group for the Enabling Good Lives System Transformation met with some of the Families Group and two members of the Ministry of Heath team to discuss how to better engage with our local community. As I’ve already stated we have notice that we are not getting the engagement we would like from our community so we need to be strategic on how to engage people.  It was a really good meeting and we are working towards getting flyers made up, Facebook groups and doing public forums moving forward. Next week we have our Core Group meetings and our Regional Leadership group meeting. I’m looking forward to where this transformation is headed, even if I am still somewhat cynical about the process.

Not sure ADNZ Ben always enjoys long meetings

On Wednesday I wrote and shared a blog responding to the challenge that Mike Pulman, Jade Farrar and Huhana Hickey had issued for people within the disability community to step up and tell their stories and become leaders.  As I pointed out in my blog 24% of the population have a disability yet are completely under-represented in many aspects of community leadership.  I was not expecting the reaction I got. Mike Pulman read part of my blog on his Facebook livestream that night and since then I have had 200 hits on the blog. I usually average somewhere between 30 to 60 hits! I am committed to telling my story and I will be developing more content moving forward.  Mike has even asked to interview me on his show next week! Tune in on Monday at at 7pm to hear what we have to say.

I’m honored that Jade and Mike have such confidence in me and I will continue to be writing about issues facing the community. I’ll also be sharing content from other content creators to spread the messages that need to be talked about.

On Thursday I was asked to speak about Assistance Dogs for the Animal Care students at UCOL, Palmerston North. I spoke a bit about the legal aspects and definitions of Disability Assist Dogs, what roles that they perform, caring for them and what exactly ADNZ Ben does for me. The students seemed to enjoy the session and asked a few questions.  I’m still getting used to the fact I need to take pics or short video clips when I do these presentations so completely forgot to for this presentation! If you would like me to write about Assistance Dogs NZ and Disability Assist Dogs in general, leave me a comment below!

ADNZ Ben after a busy weekend in the bush in March

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to speak at Te Hiringa I Te Mahara, the Whanau Room at UCOL, Palmerston North. I was asked to speak on “Personal Motivation”, I always feel slightly odd being asked to do talks such as these as so often they turn into inspiration porn.  My take on “personal motivation” is that it doesn’t matter how “inspirational” you find someone to be, that the only person who can motivate you is yourself!

ADNZ Ben watching Kahu watching him.

A small group, but I truly believe that the people in the room in front of you on any particular day are the people that are meant to be there.  I spoke on some of the things that I am motivated by and some of the strategies that I employ to keep myself motivated, even when things are not going quite to plan. I also spoke to the fact that when we lose sight of keeping all elements of Te Whare Tapa Wha balanced is a contributing factor in losing motivation. We also talked over SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis in a personal context to help you know your personal limitations and at times where some stressors may come from. I really enjoyed this session and the best part for me a student saying to me “You’re not like other motivational speakers, you’d don’t just focus on your achievements”. Thank you to Whaea Erica for the invitation and the consistent support you have offered me, both in my time studying at UCOL last year and since.

Kahu, myself and Wharea Erica William
I’m looking forward to the week ahead, with my interview with Mike on Monday evening, Disabled Core Group on Tuesday, Regional Leadership Group on Wednesday and I’ll be doing some more training later in the week so I can get in shape to hit the trails again this summer.
I am really excited to announce that I will be going LIVE with Jade Farrar on Tues to launch what will be my first video content for AntnzVentures to discuss what is #branddisability and why it is so important for us to “win the hearts and minds” (not sure why you are using an American military term Jade!) of the entire community to increase awareness and inclusion of all in society! Keep an eye on my Facebook page and tune in! I will upload to this page and my Youtube channel once I figure out how to!
Take care all, stay safe and remember life is an adventure!

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