Going out for dinner and bowling with friends – it’s a normal weekend activity that lets us get out the house to socialise, relax and have some fun.
But for many young people with disabilities, the opportunity to do that doesn’t exist.
Recreate NZ is changing this, offering youth with intellectual disabilities a chance of normality through a range of adventure, recreation, social and education programmes.
From evenings out to multi-day camping adventures, the programmes work towards reducing social isolation by bringing young people together with their peers to develop friendships, gain confidence and learn life skills, whilst also offering parents and caregivers a much-deserved break.
Participant Earl Fisher is just like any other 23-year-old; he enjoys playing video games, going out to eat, and is looking forward to getting his restricted license soon. But Earl also has an intellectual disability, which can leave him feeling isolated.
His mother, Susan Fisher says that she had been looking for ways to get Earl to be more active in the community, to make friends and have fun.
“Earl has already missed out on a lot of fun in his lifetime. So, when I found out about Recreate last year and how awesome the activities were, I signed him up straight away.”
“I’m already seeing such positive changes in him; he’s become a lot more lighthearted, independent, and confident. He looks forward to seeing the support crew and has made some great friendships.”
Earl says that his favourite trip so far has been to Splash Planet in Hastings.
“We went swimming, go-karting – all really fun. Usually I hang out at home doing nothing, but this gives me the opportunity to do something. I’ve made about five friends, and we usually coordinate which meet ups we are going on.”
Established nationally in 2002, Recreate NZ started offering its programmes in the Bay of Plenty two years ago. Recreate NZ’s Regional Funding Officer Nicola Keyworth says they are grateful for TECT’s support since their launch in the region.
“Without the generous and ongoing support of TECT, much of what we offer and accomplish wouldn’t be possible. Demand in Tauranga has been high, and the funding has allowed us to expand our delivery so nobody misses out.”
If you’re interested in becoming part of the Recreate community, to join the programme or volunteer, visit www.recreate.org.nz.