Tevita – a man with a plan

Many young men grow up dreaming of becoming like their Dad, and Tevita is not any different. He dreamt of following his Dad’s shared interest in music, having a paying job and being able to be proud of his contribution to the community. To be a man of mana.

However, things were not working out how Tevita had hoped. Tevita and his family didn’t want him to be segregated from the community, and wanted to make sure that he had access to opportunities that other kids had growing up. For this reason, he had attended mainstream high school Fairfield College, and had always lived at home rather than at a residential service. After high school, he had transitioned to the vocational services at Interactionz, but had started relying on hub services more and more – in fact, his dependence on these had increased from two days a week to five. And he wasn’t motivated or content with this situation – he just didn’t see any alternative.

That’s when Interactionz stepped in and worked with Tevita and his supportive family to develop a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). PATH is a planning tool, which uses visual mapping and drawings, to help people visualise what is possible, and plan steps to achieve this. As part of this process, a brainstorming session was done with Tevita and his family, which uncovered his ideas of what he wanted in life. They found out that he longed to be a contributing member of his community, but he needed help figuring out what he could do and how he could do it. The PATH then mapped out a process to make it all happen; including setting up a network of facilitators, volunteers and family members to ensure that he had the natural supports to achieve his goals.

These people, or natural supports, not only were there to support him in ventures into the community, but also to help him stay motivated and confident in pursuing his goals. And being motivated was much easier for Tevita with a plan in place – he had a clear path as to how he would achieve his goals of being part of his community and having a job.

The first step was to support Tevita to sign up with Volunteer Waikato to seek volunteering opportunities. This allowed him the opportunity to think about how he expresses and presents himself to others, meant he was taking steps toward helping out in the community, and was a good introduction to the real-world situation of job hunting.

Having lots of energy, one of the findings of the PATH was that Tevita was less likely to become bored and restless when he was outside doing activities that he enjoyed. Sure, doing whatever activities that were going on at the hub kept him busy, but these were not always things that Tevita found satisfaction in doing. They did not stimulate him and make him happy, like being physically active outdoors did. And as happiness, or a good life, was the goal – not just keeping busy – Interactionz connected Tevita and his support network with Waimarie Community House to do gardening work. This provided Tevita with an opportunity to not only do something which he loves and keep active, but also held other learning opportunities such as practical food preparation, and through interacting with other people in the community, developing his social skills. It was a great start – suddenly he had expanded his social network, was developing more life skills, and achieving his major goal of feeling like he was contributing to the community.

Part of Tevita’s PATH plan looked at his interests and skill areas to identify what physical activities or sports would suit him best. Tevita started participating in gym and swimming sessions with different volunteers in the community, as well as going tenpin bowling regularly with his friend (who had previously been his volunteer). Participating in these activities meant more social connections, increased activity levels, and that he learnt new skills and competencies. They also helped him to feel more settled as he was happy with the activities he was doing, as well as most importantly; achieving his goals.

This was a real confidence booster for Tevita, and led to him becoming more motivated to help out at his home as well. Having never had motivation previously to contribute to the care of his own home (where he lives with his family), he started to recognise that he could help by tidying up. Of course, Tevita was also more capable physically to do this, due to improved fitness gained through gardening and other activities identified through his PATH. Receiving positive feedback and recognition from his family for his help then added to Tevita’s sense of mana and place within his family.

Also identified in Tevita’s PATH was that he has a love of music. He had spent a lot of time while at the vocational hub watching YouTube music videos and listening to the radio. So Interactionz facilitators helped Tevita to find a volunteer with a similar love of music, and then they were both connected with the African drumming group. Now Tevita is learning African drumming and to play the guitar. As well as enjoying the music, he is able to build strong friendships with others at the class who share his passion, and feel good that he is pursuing his goal of being a musician, and being involved in the community. Two goals that are especially important to him, as he aspires to be more like his Dad.

As Tevita’s confidence grew, his world seemed to open up for him. He then wanted to try new things and have more independence to go out into the community, including using the bus services and his bike. To achieve this, Interactionz supported Tevita to apply for the Sir John Logan Campbell Scholarship. This scholarship allowed Tevita to undertake a SPEC (South Pacific Educational Courses) learning module, which provides training and support for cycle safety and riding skills through learning demonstrations. He also purchased good safety equipment with money from the scholarship – and now his fitness is increasing even more, and he is much more independent.

Interactionz also supported Tevita to learn how to use the Hamilton bus service, and with the scholarship secured funds for a bus card. Now Tevita is able to use his bus card with assistance from his natural supports, and is confident in using the bus service to travel safely around the community. And of course, as he makes his way around the community interacting with people, he is also developing friendships with volunteers and other community members.

All of these steps on his PATH have led to a huge movement away from hub based services and facilitated support. Tevita had always had varying levels of time and involvement with the hub and input from paid facilitators. However, with his new confidence, fitness and sense of independence, Interactionz is working with his strengthened natural support network to transition him completely away from community based facilitation. All of his activities are now based in the community, rather than in the vocational hubs. A focus on an individualised plan for Tevita (the PATH) has allowed Tevita the vision to see what is possible, with less reliance on paid supports, and more on natural relationships. Most importantly; Tevita is happy and motivated doing activities he enjoys, and can see that he is achieving his goal of; “being more like my Dad”.