Blake is 20 years old and loving life. He is one of the many young people using Enabling Good Lives Funding to live the life they want.
When he is not busy with work, Blake is skiing, playing indoor soccer or attending youth group. “I have youth group on Tuesdays and play indoor soccer on Wednesdays,” he says.
“Last year, I started skiing with the Disabled Snow Sports Canterbury. They supply you with a buddy to ski with for the day. I won the trophy for the most enthusiastic skier. I think it’s because I kept turning up with new bits of gear every time.”
Blake also works full-time as a joiner, building kitchens. “I can now pretty much make everything that we make there. I can do it without any assistance,” says Blake. “I have also started an apprenticeship for my joinery and carpentry course, which is going really well with the tutor’s help,” he adds.
Like a lot of young men his age, Blake also loves getting behind the wheel. He proudly shows off the car he worked hard all year to save for; a fire-engine red Toyota Corolla sitting in the driveway.
With the support of Enabling Good Lives Funding, Blake was able to get an instructor to teach him how to drive. “I was able to get my learners’ in less than a year. Before I had my car, he (the instructor) taught me how to drive in a simulator. Now he’s teaching me how to drive in my own car for my restricted and it seems to be going quite well. He taught me how to parallel park in probably about five minutes.”
Although Blake is leading a rich and fulfilling life now, his mum Andrea admits that for a while she was nervous about the funding opportunities available for her son after he finished high-school.
“Blake had heaps of help at school, receiving funding and it was really good. Coming towards Year 13 I was really worried because everyone really helped him get through high school and I thought well, where do we go from here, what do we do? I thought it was all up to me and that was really scary.”
“Thankfully the year Blake was finishing high school, Enabling Good Lives began. We were invited into the programme and it was just amazing. They would suggest things to us, they did all the research for us and they even helped find work experience and things like that for Blake. ”
“We were introduced to Manawanui who facilitated using the funding for different things we wouldn’t have been able to afford or that would’ve taken Blake a while to save up for.”
“That made our lives so simple. Blake is working pretty independently with the help of the funding,” says Andrea.
She also has a piece of advice she’d like to share with other parents. “You’ve got to fight for your child. Ask lots of questions and get people to help you.”