Disabled people in the Western Bay of Plenty are being offered new support in the form of four newly appointed area coordinators.

Jenny Dawber is the coordinator for Bethlehem, Judea and Brookfield.

Local area coordinator Jenny Dawber, left, David Vaalu, Debbie Davidson and Larissa Clarke with Tauranga City Councillor Tony Christiansen, front. Photo: Cody Stevens.

Local area coordinator Jenny Dawber, left, David Vaalu, Debbie Davidson and Larissa Clarke with Tauranga City Councillor Tony Christiansen, front. Photo: Cody Stevens.

David Vaalu will represent the Gate Pa and Greerton areas, while Debbie Davidson will look after the Waihi Beach, Katikati, Omokoroa and Te Puna areas.

Larrisa Clarke has been appointed the coordinator of the area from Otamarakau to Te Puke.

These four people will provide support to people with disabilities and their families as part of the Ministry of Health’s new model for supporting disabled people.

Based in local communities, coordinators ensure families are provided, not only with good information, but also with someone to walk alongside them as they find solutions to the issues they face.

Inclusion Aotearoa’s Ruth Gerzon says disabled people and parents often face complex problems.

“This is especially true at times of transition: moving into a new community, when children start or leave school, or establish lives away from the family home.

“Coordinators can assist disabled people and their families to plan and find solutions to issues that arise.

“They can support disabled people and their families/whanau to find ways to lead good, everyday, lives.”

Coordinators are also tasked with supporting communities to be more welcoming of disabled children and adults.

Ruth says attitudes to disabled people have improved, but there are still barriers to overcome.

“Many adults are still underemployed, unable to use their skills and talents in community settings.

“Some families, focussing on the needs of their disabled child, may become isolated and may be reluctant to ask for help from those around them.”

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