Ac­ces­si­bil­ity lessons from Ja­pan and UK

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Auck­land has a lot to learn from Hiroshima, Ezekiel Rob­son reck­ons.

He’ll find out for sure this week.

Mr Rob­son, a disability ad­vo­cate, is in the Ja­panese city for an in­ter­na­tional ex­change pro­gramme that fo­cuses on im­prov­ing com­mu­nity lead­er­ship.

The Ma­nurewa man is one of 13 New Zealan­ders selected by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment for their work on is­sues af­fect­ing people with dis­abil­i­ties, the el­derly and youth.

People from the United King­dom and Den­mark are also tak­ing part in the pro­gramme, which runs for two weeks and in­cludes ac­tiv­i­ties in both Hiroshima and Tokyo.

‘‘The main goal is to share ex­am­ples of lead­er­ship and so­cial ser­vices in each par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try,’’ Mr Rob­son says.

Hiroshima is best known for be­ing dev­as­tated by an atomic bomb dur­ing World War II but it has plenty of other no­table fea­tures, he says. A large num­ber of people were left with last­ing dis­abil­i­ties af­ter the bomb and the city has adapted to that.

‘‘I think there’ll be some real lessons to learn from go­ing to a place that has had to be in­no­va­tive.’’

Par­tic­i­pants from Den­mark will share their strate­gies for in­clud­ing el­derly people in their so­ci­ety and Bri­tish par­tic­i­pants will share their strengths in youth ad­vo­cacy. They’ll also learn about man­ag­ing non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, ac­ces­si­ble hous­ing and im­prov­ing the up­take of ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr Rob­son is look­ing for­ward to ap­ply­ing those lessons in his own com­mu­nity when he re­turns. ‘‘I’m keen to bring back some new ideas and make plans to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity for all ages in Ma­nurewa,’’ he says.

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