Kevin’s journey of independence
This is a photo of a proud man. Kevin McNae has finally done it – he has put in the hard work and now owns his own scooter which he drives to work independently. This seemed a far-off goal months ago, but due to a group effort from Kevin himself, Levanne and Bryce from ConneXu, and strongly supported by his family, Kevin is able to enjoy the independence of not having to rely on others to get where he wants to in his life.
This is not a one-off achievement; but has been a journey of a number of steps, and over the past few years Kevin’s independence and personal achievements have come a long way. For years, he had the benefit of spending much of his time at Enrich+ community hubs, where people with disabilities are able to go to learn new skills. However, when he started working with ConneXu and moved into a local residential house, Kevin showed a desire to develop more independence – to have a job like other people and be able to get around by himself. So, Community Facilitators, Levanne and Bryce, and the rest of the team at ConneXu started to work with Kevin and his family to see what was possible.
For most of us, goal setting and breaking these goals down into achievable stages, is a really great way of focussing us on where we want to go – and Kevin is no different. The journey to confidence and independence started with his job that Enrich+ helped him to get at Pak’n’Save a couple of years ago. He was so proud, and still is, to have a job where he is able to help out others in the community. 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. Of course, 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. For storing the scooter, one weekend Bryce, Kevin and his flatmates built a kit-set shed in the backyard of their flat. Then Bryce found a scooter on TradeMe in Palmerston North that Kevin was very happy with. It was a yellow nifty 50 motorbike – and Kevin was extremely 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, Bryce and Levanne 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. Levanne says that his new-found confidence is obvious; “Kevin used to walk around with his head down, but since he has seen what he can achieve – what is possible – he walks around with his head held high.” 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 zooms along on his own bike on his way to his own job.
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