When La Mer Boell started volunteering with Hamilton-based organisation Interactionz she had to resist the temptation to provide unnecessary help to the people she was serving.
As she soon discovered, they were perfectly capable of doing most things on their own.
“One of the people I served used a wheelchair which she could push herself on flat surfaces, so I had to remember not to push her all the time when we were out together.”
Three years later and now working fulltime for Interactionz, which helps people with disabilities achieve the life they want for themselves – rather than the life other people choose for them – La Mer knows a hands-off approach really works.
“If people do things for themselves they can be more independent – and that’s what everyone wants.”
First set up as a sheltered workshop in the mid-60s, Interactionz has changed its service model to a person-driven approach so people with disabilities can live good lives where they get to be in the driving seat.
The services it offers include facilitated life-planning sessions to help the people it serves identify their goals and aspirations. Volunteers then work alongside them to help them achieve those goals – whether it’s doing cooking or crafts, making regular trips to the local pool, or be supported to become a volunteer themselves.
It’s a two-way process: “I feel like I’ve learned far more than the people I’ve served have,” says La Mer. “The biggest satisfaction is seeing people enjoying their lives.”
Todd Foundation has supported Interactionz with 2 years of funding from our General Fund under our goal to help young people to develop their potential and contribute fully in the community.
For more information see their website: www.interactionz.org.nz