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Source: Human Rights Commission

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero and I-Lead chair Kramer Hoeflich discuss the impact of lockdown with members of the I-Lead team. I-Lead is a collective of young disabled people to ensure they have a voice.

Below is a transcript of the conversation

Kramer: Kia orana from Kramer, chair for I-Lead joined by Paula Tesoriero, Disability Rights Commissioner as co-host. Paula’s role is a statutory role under Human Rights Act, to protect the rights of disabled people, to shine the light on issues affecting us in New Zealand.

Paula: I saw a lot during those weeks of lockdown. Tough time for many. Really looking forward to tonight with awesome panelists. 

Kramer: I-Lead is a youth collective who make sure young people with disability have a voice. Purpose of this is to hear voices of young people during lockdown.

Kramer: Introducing NZSL interpreters Stephanie and Melody. Their videos can be pinned if needed.

Kramer: Big welcome to everyone joining us.

Josh: Hi guys, my name is Josh Fuimaono – digital coordinator for YesDisability and I-Lead, social media, newsletters and more.

Kathleen: I’m more of supporter – I do personal experiences, need anything about I-Lead ask me!

Tamara: I’m Tamara Grant, founder of Xabilities – disabled parents committee at YesDisability. I’m an ambassador of the invisible disability side of things.

Kim: Hi guys I’m Kim and I’m a part of the Yes disability committee (loses audio)

Kramer: Kim was former disability rep at MIT. Has started at ACC recently. Completed Diploma in Business Management.

Kramer: Asking panellists “How would you describe the lockdown?”

Josh: It went in stages – first and second week really relaxing, nice to be at home, a lot of video games, after mid-week two it started getting really boring and then around then me and flatmate went shopping.

Kramer: I found lockdown actually really good. I work so I was able to actually work from   home and still keep myself busy.

Josh: Really weird having to stand there – realised couldn’t do what I usually do. More steps in process of getting to shops, doing what I need and getting back out. Lucky went with flatmate. Ended up pretty good. Flatmate has a health condition – we had to keep ourselves super safe. Pretty much casual for me, chilling, then tiresome and boring and wanted to communicate with other people.

Kathleen: When lockdown started my grandma passed away. We weren’t allowed to do a funeral. Last weekend we did a funeral, but we had to wait all of quarantine. Same as Josh with shopping. I wasn’t allowed to go with my partner cos only one person per household, but I have to have someone with me. That was pretty hard to get through, hours in line, I had to take my chair, my wheelchair in line, lug my trolley, it didn’t make sense. I kind of liked the bubble. It is a bit hard, but we are getting through it.

Paula: Kathleen, sorry about your grandma. The experience you had about going shopping I’ve heard from a lot of people. What are your thoughts on going with someone?

Kathleen: You got a dirty look. One time we waited in line, trying to get in, security guard would only let one of us in and I had to go in on my own. It didn’t make any sense, now in level 1 back to normal. Pretty stressful to wait in line for weekly food shopping. I thought what if I show total mobility card – I have arthritis, you can’t see I have a disability, it’s quite tough cos people don’t believe you. Stressful on our relationship because we were getting frustrated. Maybe if security guard had asked reason for having someone with me.

Kramer: Since I’m in a wheelchair, I felt bad they grabbed me and told be to go up the front. I felt bad and apologising for cutting in and having someone with me.

Paula: I heard a lot about the visible vs invisible disability.

Kim: I found lockdown actually really good. I work so I was able to actually work from home and still keep myself busy. I didn’t actually need to go anywhere because my parents do all my shopping, so they were the ones who did it for me. 

Tamara: Through this time, I had no pain, my voice was clear, I didn’t have the pressure of trying to communicate. Lot less stressful by myself, and with my son and not being in public. Level 1 I’m back to working on my language, going slowly. Supermarkets – horrible very stressful. I broke down every time. I had to know what was happening inside, the reason for the lines. I just needed someone to explain it to me. “Have you been living under a rock”. People in public service need training.

Kramer to Tamara: how was your experience as a mum?

Tamara: I live at a bach. I have that mentality of everyday I have to do something. Posting on social media to help the mood. By putting in the public with my son, we just built a waterslide and posting about it. Had to stay in the present because people worried about their jobs. Have to stay on top of my mental health. The lockdown was really easy and really nice because I’ve had the training to push through.

Kim: I found lockdown good. (more) My parents did my shopping for me. 

Kramer: Two weeks into it I found home wasn’t a place to relax any more with the work. I needed like Tamara to stay in the moment.

Kim: hi I’m good, I was working

Paula: Was anyone studying in lockdown?

Kramer: Like it was at uni – most of the stuff you can watch online now. I was able to do it through zoom still very interactive for me. Easier than physically going in – lot faster more efficient.

Tamara: I kind of studied as a way to entertain myself and outlet my mind. I did a lot of study on the human connection and how to increase the efficiency of that, we all have that. I created a device you can tap into your self conscious and your heart rate and status and communicate about it. The device can tell you if anything is playing up.

Tamara: I have done all the research needs engineering and coding.

Kramer: Was there anything you liked about the lockdown?

Kramer: What I liked was it gave the earth a chance to heal like after the fires. Seeing the difference it made when we were polluting the earth, and time to myself, got practice cooking and healthy eating. I didn’t miss fast food got so used to eating greens and try new things I didn’t have the time before.

Josh: Obviously I like the free time I got. Instead of community 45 minutes each way, same time it gave me time for more reps into workout. More time to get a little fitter and enjoy myself a little more.

Kramer: I became best friends with my fridge.

Kathleen: It was the biggest reason for me to stay home. I really like staying home in the warm. I have to try to keep myself and house warm as possible. But my aircon has been broken since beginning of lockdown and they can’t come and do inspections so I haven’t had a heater so I’ve had to spend money on jumpers, blankets, so everything put on a halt so other than that staying at home best thing I could do because my arthritis is active. It gave me a chance to recoup. I continually had GP appointments, but we did it on the phone. Now that it is all over, I have my GP appointment at end of week and I get to see her for first time since start of pandemic.

Tamara: I learnt how strong I was through it. Got to lockdown and I was totally prepared for the end of the world. I felt strong, happy I was by myself and now I can carry it forward into the normal days.

Kim: I go out a lot at night with things on and I really enjoyed not having to go anywhere. I also enjoyed not having to wake up as early because I didn’t have to travel into work

MIL OSI