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New disability event brings people together

New disability event brings people together

Disabled people, families and organisations are now equipped with the ideas, enthusiasm and skills to build connections in their communities, after attending the ImagineBetter Assemblies.

The two-day events were held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from 9 to 17 November, focusing on the theme Connections, Community, Citizenship. ImagineBetter, an independent organisation, replaced its annual conference with three Assemblies this year, offering a twist on the traditional conference format.

One participant at the Christchurch Assembly said the event provided "time to think, talk and make connections that will lead on to better things".

Another said: "I was feeling lost when I came here. You give me hope and faith."

ImagineBetter Chief Executive Tony Blackett said the aim was for people to leave the events with the motivation and tools to work on issues close to their hearts. "I believe we achieved that. We received a lot of positive feedback about our new format. People enjoyed being able to lead and take part in the discussions, rather than just listening to key speakers.

"Many participants have planned to stay in touch with those they met at the Assemblies to keep the momentum going."

One participant said the Assembly had given her "clarity about my family's future". Others said they were grateful to have met new people and for the honest conversations.

Community building expert and author Margaret Wheatley, from the United States, was the guest speaker at the Auckland and Wellington Assemblies and spoke about her universal message: "Whatever the problem, community is the answer." Dr Wheatley is co-founder of the Berkana Institute, a non-profit organisation established to foster resilient communities.

Leaders in community development from Australia's Jeder Institute and Future by Design facilitated discussions, with the support of the ImagineBetter team.


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