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Increased Independence And Fitness Sees David Soar

Deaf man David Clark is a regular at the Pettigrew Green Arena Gym in Taradale and is glad to be back at it now that New Zealand has moved to Level 1.

With the gym closed during lockdown, Clark has been making good use of weights at his home at the Otatara House in Taradale, but saying the 56-year old is thrilled to see the gym doors reopen this week would be an understatement.

As one of many supported by Deaf Aotearoa, New Zealand’s nationwide organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, Clark has been working with the Hauora facilitation team to ensure he has all the appropriate levels of support on a day-to-day basis.

An all-encompassing approach to life goals and practical support, Deaf Aotearoa worked with Clark to discover ways to maintain a greater level of personal fitness, starting by signing up to the Pettigrew Arena Gym and identify any potential safety risks.

Clark says he is enjoying greater independence and is actively embracing the challenge of learning how to use new equipment at the gym.

“I have been going to the gym for two months and I am loving it because it’s helping me become more independent and I’m constantly learning how to use the equipment and clean it properly afterwards”, Clark said.

At the gym, areas have been identified where David can safely work out without falling over or bumping into things during his sessions every Monday and Friday.

Despite his relative short sight, David has also learnt the safest walking route to the Napier Gym from his home and has developed his own training plan alongside gym staff.

But life wasn’t always this enjoyable and self-determined for Clark, a 56-year old who became Deaf as a result of a stroke at birth.

Living in a motor camp in Hawkes Bay several years ago, Clark’s family began to notice something was wrong when David began presenting an increased amount of facial injuries with little explanation.

When David’s sister Barbara became increasingly concerned, the Hawkes Bay District Health Board intervened and tests discovered that Clark had been experiencing severe blindness, with no sight at all in one eye and just over half the seeing capacity in the other.

The facial injuries had been a result of falls due to the 56-year old’s loss of sight with no safeguards or supports in place.

Acknowledging the extent of the injuries, David agreed that he could no longer live by himself and began searching for assisted living options and support for day-to-day life.

Deaf Aotearoa’s Hauora service got involved shortly thereafter and immediately helped David identify some new goals, both for maintaining as much independence as possible and the important safety measures that needed to be put in place.

Through a Hearing Assistive Technology assessment with the Ministry of Health, Deaf Aotearoa helped David secure crucial safety equipment, including a specialized doorbell, pager, flashing light, and bed shaker which lets David know when someone it at the door or if there is an emergency.

Maintaining personal privacy was important for David in his new surroundings, making good use of the equipment which alerts him whenever support staff need to enter his room at the Otatara House.

“I love the specialised Deaf equipment because the staff now know that if they need to pop into my room, they need to press the doorbell”, Clark said.

Deaf Aotearoa’s Hauora service operates nationwide and provides Deaf people with specialised support including needs assessments, applications for assistive equipment, housing support, health and wellbeing.

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