Posted on Jun 01, 2019
Heidi is a 15-year-old young lady living in Kawerau. She suffers from Spina Bifida, hence the need for her wheelchair.
She is one of 20 members of Kawerau District Youth Council and she absolutely loves taking part in discussions. This opportunity has given her much confidence as well as meeting other young people. Heidi feels that everyone should have the same opportunities and be able to take part in everything. Able bodied people need to realise what disabled people need. The Youth Council organises some big events like Christmas in the Park etc.
Heidi loves horse riding and especially boxing which has strengthened her upper body and now she has a neck, instead of being hunched up!

She is a student at Tarawera High School and had a project which was to let people know what it was like to be in a wheelchair especially going up a steep ramp or crossing roads, things that able-bodied people take for granted.
She set the project on its way by having 2 able bodied people spend 2 days in a wheelchair. She got 2 volunteers who reported back that: -
1 - They could not make their own drink
2 - Could not get the plug in the wall to fire up their computer in order to get their work done
3 - They could not get to the toilet (but they got there in the end).
Their rendition of the difficulties was hilarious as you can imagine!

She lives in Kawerau and can now go into town by herself which makes her feel incredibly independent.
However in January this year she was knocked back a bit as she went down Fentonmill Rd as usual but at the bottom of the hill by the BMX track, Telecom had dug up the pathway so she had to turn around and wheel herself back up the steep hill, cross the road without getting knocked down and go back down the other side but when she came to Bell Street she had to phone her Dad who was working in town to come and help her as it was too steep for her wheelchair.
Heidi’s big muscles do not function under her shoulder blades, so she finds difficulty with many tasks, for example, the doors at school are very heavy so getting around is difficult. However, Heidi said that people are starting to realise just what difficulties are felt by people in wheelchairs and they are getting better at thinking of others.
Recently, Heidi went away for the Kawerau Youth Council’s 1 st training weekend away at Rautahi Marai. This was so very special for her, as, over the years, she missed out on many school camps because of the lack of facilities to suit. But this time with the help of the Mayor, her family and the other young people in the Youth Council who made it happen, she was able to take part. In her own words she said she had one awesome time!
During her time away at the Marae the young people planned 2 more events in Kawerau. Firstly, Disability Awareness and secondly Accessibility for all.
When asked about an electric wheelchair Heidi said she would not want one as she needs the exercise to keep healthy. However, she did say that she would love the right wheels to be able to go over the sand and into the sea when summer comes around again. 
Her ambition is to learn to surf and one day be a Councillor.
Rob Rowson thanked Heidi for her inspiring speech, commending her on her contribution to the Community and told her if she needs anything then come and talk to Rotary. He presented her with a small token of appreciation.