Making a commitment to accessibility
A passionate pair are coming on board as new leaders of the Tauranga Disability Advisory Group.
They say despite the changeover in leadership, the group’s kaupapa will remain the same.
“The goal is to be the most accessible city in New Zealand. We walk hand-in-hand with Tauranga City Council to achieve that goal,” says new vice-chair Stace Roche.
Bryce McFall and Stacey will be taking over from co-chairs Paul Curry and Therese James next Thursday.
The group, which was established in March 2014, is made up of people who live with a disability, advocates and parents of disabled children.
Bryce says the group must be led by people who experience accessibility issues every day.
"We live with the issues that we are dealing with, we see the problems.
"It's something I feel I can greatly contribute to, so I decided to put my hand up."
Bryce and Stacy have been group members for the past two years, so they say stepping up into leadership roles is only a natural progression.
Commitment to the community doesn't stop there for the pair, with them both being heavily involved with Parafed Bay of Plenty.
The organisation develops sporting opportunities for people with physical disabilities.
“Bryce and I have a lot of balls in the air that we enjoy juggling,” says Stacey.
“We are both passionate about the disability sector and the region - and bringing those two things together.”
In Tauranga, 28 per cent of people identify as living with a disability.
The group are urging council to implement universal design in all stages of improvements and developments within the community.
Universal design considers various life scenarios such as disability, old age, childhood, injury and pregnancy in all design.
“It is making sure buildings are accessible to all facets of society. If we are involved, it’s inclusive for everyone – mothers with prams and elderly,” says Stacey.
“If you don’t count us in you are counting us out. If you make it accessible for us, you are making it accessible for everyone,” says Bryce.
Bryce and Stacey agree it will be a very smooth handover from former co-chairs, saying “there’s nothing that’s not ongoing business”.
Their next step? Finalising the winners of the Tauranga City Accessibility Awards.
“It’s just really important to ensure that disabled people have equal opportunities for anything that is going on in society.
“Being part of the council is just one of the many facts of our voice needing to be heard,” says Stacey.