CCS Disability Action Southland’s Vocational Transition coordinator, Tony Kahukura, describes Emily or ‘Ems’ as she prefers to be called, as a bright, outgoing and independent young woman with a great attitude and wicked sense of humour.
Tony worked alongside Ems during her Ministry of Social Development-funded transition year, which focussed on supporting her to figure out what she would like to do once she leaves school.
During this time he linked her to a variety of opportunities and activities. These included a social group at Invercargill Working Men’s Club. Ems’ competitive streak was revealed during friendly pool games, where she laid down a pool table challenge to fellow members.
“Ems always lets us know what she’d like to get up to, whether it’s planned or not,” says Tony. “She gets my attention with “Hey you!” and we go from there.”
It’s this cheeky and vivacious personality that inspired Tony to link Ems to Radio Southland and New Zealand On Air, where she now has her own radio show called Fraser FM, which airs every fortnight. The station and Ems’ Community Support Workers Tamara Herbert and Debbie Madden are there to support her as she prepares the programme content and delivery. Ems’ show includes her favourite tracks; shout outs to her social groups and news of what she’s been up to.
“I rock out to my music on the radio and while I’m in the van with Dad, too,” says Ems.
Ems’ show has made a massive difference to her confidence and has given her a voice not only in New Zealand but internationally with whānau overseas who eagerly await her instalments!
When not preparing for broadcast, Ems can be found people watching at a local café. She’s also started playing Ten Pin Bowling and keeps active with ‘Sit and Fit’ classes once a week. Her bold, personal style reflects her attitude, she’s fond of Doc Marten boots and is planning to get a wheelchair tattooed on her arm to celebrate her upcoming birthday.
CCS Disability Action successfully applied for funding which has enabled Tony to continue supporting Emily to connect with work experience. “She’s been volunteering at the SPCA where she has affectionately labelled herself ‘the Crazy Cat Lady’”, says Tony.
Ems also has aspirations to work in retail; a job at The Warehouse is high on her list.
When she’s not out and about Ems lives in a supported living environment and has five flatmates.