Seven years ago, a group of parents, concerned that there were no quality services for their multi-impaired children post-schooling, got together to set up their own service, with the purpose of supporting their sons and daughters to participate meaningfully in their local community in Petone.
Initially, they found it nearly impossible to get funding, because of their location, so they went under the auspices of Wellington Aftercare, now known as Ace House, which enabled them to get the funding. Connections with the local community enabled them to find a premises to act as a day base – and so, Thumbs Up service was born, and as of three years ago, became an independent Trust.
Their premises are in what used to be the Petone Senior Citizens rooms, off Jackson Street, and with the pub down the road gifting them some Community Trust monies, they were able to get accessible bathroom facilities built. Mike Gourley had arranged to meet up with Bridget Snedden, the parent of an adult son, Alex, who’s lived a life affected by Down Syndrome – and more recently epilepsy – who was giving a presentation on enabling Alex to leave home and go flatting – as you do – a story that’s part of this edition of One in Five.
And it so happened that the presentation was at Thumbs Up, too good an opportunity to cover all the bases. The people who use the Thumbs Up service are supported to take up any activity in their community they wish. So with Karen it’s sailing, with Phillip it’s football, with Graham it’s fishing! There’s also a music and drama therapy programme run by Clare Hewitt and John Paul, or JP as he’s known.
Mike Gourley talks with both Clare and JP, as well as support worker Rachel and sport and recreation co-ordinator Jill, plus Manager, Laura Vonk. The key to the service philosophy is to enable people to make connections with their community – to build a sense of belonging – which means during the day, most people are out and about, rather than cloistered in a ‘day service’.