How Auckland Whanau Special Needs Support Group Inc started.
Thirteen years ago I took permanency of a gorgeous wee girl with Cerebral Palsy……she had been in my care since she came home from NICU…she was born at 29 weeks…..she was one of my foster children…..I was told she would be lucky to live to be a year old…..at age two and a half I took permanency of her …..she had other ideas, she was here in this life for a purpose…..she proved the medical staff all wrong. And so, my journey began…. I soon realised that she had heaps of support, but I as a parent didn’t know any other parents walking the same walk I was…. raising a child with different abilities…. special needs. So, I started looking around locally for some sort of support network, a playgroup or just a mother’s group……all I could find was a morning tea/playgroup on the North Shore. So, for about 6 months I drove over there every month to talk and meet with other mums that understood me…understood the daily issues we deal with. It soon became clear after talking to therapists at Kidzfirst that I wasn’t the only one in South Auckland feeling this way……so 10 years ago, with the help of the awesome therapists at Kidzfirst, it was arranged that 5 mums would come to my place for morning tea……… So, what started as 6 of us in my lounge soon became Counties Manukau Special Needs Support Group……we got bigger and bigger, and it was clear fairly early on that my lounge was no longer going to suffice as a meeting venue. With the generous support of a local venue, we officially started our morning teas ……our group grew and grew, and today we have over 1500 members on our Facebook page. The morning teas and dinners have proven to be invaluable……we get to meet new friends, talk, share, cry, understand each other, and don’t judge. Our support network is at times the only thing that gets us through the challenges we face as a parent raising a child with special needs. We don’t discriminate…. our group is open to anyone with a diagnosed disability and whanau. At times I find myself googling certain diagnoses, as I have never heard of some of them. I have learnt so much in my time with this group, I have met the most amazing families and continue to do so. I have made friends that have become invaluable in life and look forward to meeting many more.
In 2017 I realised that the group had become so big that I was no longer able to fund or manage it on my own, and with the help of some awesome people beside me we changed our name to Auckland Whanau Special Needs Support Group Inc and became an incorporated society. We have an awesome committee, which consists of parents who understand and only want what is best for our kids and whanau. The knowledge and support parents and caregivers get from walking the walk and talking the same talk as others, is something we promote and encourage ........ We have now opened up our group Auckland wide, as it is now clear that there is a huge demand for a group like ours….previous morning teas and support groups in Auckland has come and gone, so where does that leave our families?…… Well we welcome you with open arms……come join us….walk with us……we will support you….we will be there for you….we provide a place where our children and whanau can come together without being judged and just be in great company with likeminded people.
Chairperson & Founder: Marlene Green
Secretary: Joy Jenkin
Treasurer: Suzanne Tofilau
Funding Co-ordinator(s): Marlene Green & Suzanne Tofilau
Memberships Co-ordinator: Megan Timu-Walker