Jack’s story

List of achievements ticked off

Jack is sports mad, which for a budding sports journalist is a prerequisite. But not many sports fans can boast their own highly rating radio sports show, or that they’ve rubbed shoulders with New Zealand sporting royalty like ex Tall Black Brendan Pongia, Jonah Lomu’s manager Phil Kingsley-Jones and their favourite team – the Southland Stags. But then again, there are not many people like Jack.

Using the PATH Plan developed by Jack, his family and ImagineBetter as a guide, Jack has begun ticking off a swag of achievements. One of the major goals on his PATH Plan was to get his driver’s license, and having received his Learner’s Licence this year Jack’s well on the way to his first road trip.

His Mum, Debbie, said that it was the perseverance of Jenny, his Local Area Coordinator (LAC) from ImagineBetter’s partner organisation AccessAbility, that walked alongside Jack to pass the test. “Jack had had four attempts – he’d be fine when we were practicing at home but when he came to take the test he would always be a couple of questions short. Jenny really gave him that encouragement to keep focusing on his goal.”

After a one-on-one session with an adult literacy tutor, which was accessed through community contacts from LAC, Jack finally cracked it on his fifth attempt.

While he plans to get behind the wheel in the future, he’s currently getting round in his own customised ride – his hand-cranked, fluro-green bike. Having already completed a half-marathon on his bike, and a handful of races as part of the Southland Festival of Running, which was part of his original PATH Plan, Jack now has his eyes firmly set on completing the 2017 New York Marathon alongside his stepdad Greg.

“It’s been great to be able to have the PATH Plan – to be able to look at it and see how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved – that’s a pretty cool buzz,” Jack says.

Among the things Imagine Better encouraged Jack to do was to have more of a connection with the community, and to increase his circle of friends.

“That was a part of his life that Jack felt he was missing,” says Debbie. “So having that push from ImagineBetter to put himself out there was invaluable.”

As part of his PATH Plan, Jack expanded his friend group in time for his eighteenth birthday and is a regular visitor to his mate Taylor’s place – so much so that a wheelchair ramp was built to allow Jack easier access.

Now Jack can’t help but make new friends everywhere he goes, like the “cool” people he met at the 2015 ImagineBetter Assembly in Christchurch.

Jack is also front of house selling his Mum’s handmade beauty products at the local market.

A move to Wellington is imminent for Jack and his family; with more employment opportunities and better transport systems, the move is about giving Jack the chance to live independently. “It’s a bigger city with a lot more people to meet. Eventually he wants to go flatting so continuing to build his networks is really important,” Debbie says.

For Jack and his family, it helps knowing that they always have the support of ImagineBetter wherever they are in the country.

Jack plans to continue his radio show via podcasts, and is looking forward to interviewing some of his sporting heroes like the Wellington Hurricanes.

“I’ve met them before – Brendan Pongia set up a meeting – and that was awesome. It would be cool to have them on the show,” says Jack with a grin. But he maintains that his favourite team will always be the Southland Stags.

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