Reaching out to keep connected

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An online activity programme to help people with intellectual disabilities has been launched by Wanaka’s M!NT charitable trust.
Activity co-ordinator Charlotte Jackson said the aim of the M!NT Reach Out programme was to ensure those with intellectual disabilities were engaged physically and socially during the Covid-19 restrictions.
The six-day programme included gym sessions, music, drama, yoga, dance and a facilitated buddy programme, all run live online at scheduled times.
The teachers and trainers had volunteered their time — ‘‘their incredible energy and drive keeps us all going’’.
‘‘We are blown away by how well the kids have engaged and we can’t wait to see how our M!NT Reach Out programme develops.’’
The trust has been striving to improve community awareness and engagement for children with additional needs, she said.
‘‘Our aim is to develop life skills and foster meaningful, sustainable community connections.
‘‘We’ve created something quite exceptional here in Central Otago, and with outstanding local support, we are making things happen.’’
The intellectually disabled community was particularly vulnerable during this pandemic, she said.
‘‘Even after the nationwide lockdown is lifted, this immunocompromised community is going to continue self-isolating as the health risk remains extremely high.
‘‘Our young people are highly dependent with less resilience, so we want to do our best to lift them up and show them a new way of social connection.’’
Because social distancing would be ongoing for them, they hoped to continue with the programme and believed it would have future benefits in other aspects of life.
‘‘We are keen to connect with other similar national and international organisations so we are excited about the possibilities.’’
– For details on how to join the sessions email minttrustgroup@gmail.com