Di­a­betes is not hold­ing this sup­port worker back

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Type one di­a­betes once held Toko­roa’s TJ Raivaru back but now he’s all about push­ing on.

De­spite hav­ing fallen into eight co­mas in his 22 years, some of which have lasted for up to five days, Raivaru is de­ter­mined to live as nor­mal a life as pos­si­ble while help­ing oth­ers to do the same.

He’s taken on a role as a dis­abil­ity sup­port worker at Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Toko­roa cam­pus which of­fers a range of mainly free cour­ses guided by Maori prin­ci­ples and val­ues.

Stu­dents with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, such as read­ing or writ­ing, are helped by Raivaru who him­self was able to get his life on track through the edu- cation provider.

He’s com­pleted not only a cer­tifi­cate in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion but also lev­els two to four in com­put­ing and a diploma in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘This is the stuff I re­ally do get into and it’s good be­ing able to make it a bit eas­ier for [stu­dents] to un­der­stand how things work,’’ he said.

But it’s been no easy road for the now as­pir­ing an­i­ma­tor to get to where he is to­day.

Al­though born with di­a­betes, it wasn’t un­til he was nearly 13 that he be­gan to show signs.

‘‘I was end­ing up in co­mas in hospi­tal at least once a year and most of it was due to my con­di­tion not be­ing han­dled prop­erly,’’ he said.

‘‘I was ne­glect­ing to take in­sulin or cer­tain shots at the right time be­cause I was get­ting re­ally sick of hav­ing to get up and take them so I ended up not both­er­ing.’’

He said en­rolling at Te Wananga o Aotearoa al­lowed him to find di­rec­tion in his life and he be­gan to look af­ter him­self bet­ter too.

‘‘While I was still do­ing the course I ended up in hospi­tal but af­ter I came out I went straight back to fin­ish my work which a lot of peo­ple were shocked by but for me I knew I had al­ready had an episode so I knew I just needed to get my work done,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve been pretty good lately tak­ing my shots be­cause I don’t want to end up in hospi­tal again and since I’ve fin­ished my cour­ses here I have in mind to even­tu­ally do an­i­ma­tion de­sign but there is very strong com­pe­ti­tion so I have to think care­fully about what area I want to get into.’’

He en­cour­aged oth­ers to take up study de­spite their set­backs.

‘‘[Te Wananga o Aotearoa] is a good place to start,’’ he said.

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Toko­roa cam­pus dis­abil­ity sup­port worker TJ Raivaru with some of his an­i­ma­tion sketches.

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