Think out­side the box

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

AN IN­NO­VA­TIVE col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween nine dis­abil­ity groups is help­ing young peo­ple liv­ing with im­pair­ments reach their full po­ten­tial.

The Cube is the uni­fi­ca­tion of net­works that spe­cialise in recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties for dis­abled youth.

Cam Calkoen has been at the heart of The Cube project through his work at YES (Youth En­gage­ment Group) Dis­abil­ity Re­source Cen­tre.

‘‘I walked into my of­fice one day at YES and I said to our CEO there are all th­ese great or­gan­i­sa­tions but peo­ple find out about them by mis­take, there is no real mar­ket­ing power.

‘‘But when we looked at the or­gan­i­sa­tions we saw that a lot of young peo­ple would go to each one, but only once they had heard about it and gen­er­ally quite late in life.’’

Mr Calkoen, 28, was born with cere­bral palsy and fol­lowed a path that saw him train­ing as an elite ath­lete with the goal of go­ing to the Par­a­lympics.

While he never made it to there his new mis­sion is to em­power young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to reach their pin­na­cle in life.

‘‘We are do­ing it so we can have more young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties prov­ing that at­ti­tude de­ter­mines al­ti­tude,’’ Mr Calkoen says.

The Cube has been devel­oped over two years and was launched on Mon­day for In­ter­na­tional Day of the Dis­abled Per­son.

It brings to­gether the net­works of Voy­ager, Achilles, Unique Fam­i­lies, ACE, Touch Com­pass, Cara­biner, Star Jam, PHAB and Sen­sa­tional Sib­lings.

Each or­gan­i­sa­tion spe­cialises in ac­tiv­i­ties which range from singing and dance to sports and men­tor­ing.

Mr Calkoen says The Cube is in­tended to make it eas­ier for dis­abled peo­ple un­der the age of 25 to find the op­tion that is the right fit for them.

All nine groups will pool re­sources for mar­ket­ing, or­gan­ised events and fundrais­ing ef­forts.

Each net­work has a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Youth En­gage­ment Group, a body which helps steer the de­ci­sions of The Cube through the demo­cratic process.

YES mem­ber Joseph Fuimaono says he sees The Cube as ‘‘ a one-stop shop for young dis­abled peo­ple who are try­ing to find ways to live a nor­mal life’’. Mr Fuimaono also lives with cere­bral palsy and uses walking sticks to sup­port him­self while he walks.

The 19-yearold says be­fore be­com­ing in­volved with YES he didn’t really get out much, but en­gag­ing with his peers gave him a new sense of com­mu­nity.

‘‘One of the rea­sons I got in­volved with this project is to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the younger kids with dis­abil­i­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing that I had to wait quite a while to ex­pe­ri­ence,’’ he says.

The Cube ex­ists on­line – a for­mat which Mr Calkoen says best suits to­day’s youth.

‘‘All the young peo­ple are on­line,’’ he says.

Go to auck­land­c­ity har­bournews.co.nz and click Lat­est Edi­tion to see a short video about The Cube.

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