This week was full of challenges for me. I had been anxious leading up to the week and was very glad once the weekend had arrived.
On Monday I wasn’t at Kickstart as I was flying back from Melbourne.
I began Tuesday by talking to one of the RTV’s who is based at Homai about Swish and my involvement with sport in general. She is putting together a presentation about children with vision impairments and barriers to sport. I talked to her for a short while and she filmed me as I’m not able to be a part of her presentation on the day. After morning tea I practiced ironing some more with Barbara. I had brought a different shirt from home specifically to practice on. We checked the tag on the shirt to see how to iron it. Then we set everything up. I needed to use a warm iron so Barbara explained to me that that meant the steam function wouldn’t work. That made sense. Once everything was ready we got to work. I laid the shirt out on the ironing board and started with the collar. That was easy. Then I moved onto the back. The shirt that I had chosen had lines in the fabric so I found it slightly hard to feel when there were creases. The creases came out easily though. Then Barbara showed me how to iron the sleeves. I made sure they were flat and straight before turning the shirt over and ironing the other side of the sleeve. I decided to iron a crease into the sleeve simply so that I would know how to do it. I had to be extra careful then to make sure it was perfectly straight and that I wouldn’t accidentally iron a crease into the shirt that I didn’t want. Barbara explained to me that the crease needed to be sharp so that it looked smart. I ironed along the crease with a finger in front of the iron to make sure I was keeping the material flat. Then I did the same to the other sleeve. Once the second sleeve was done I ironed the front of the shirt. Each time I moved the shirt around I needed to let it hang down and be careful not to crumple it. Again I pushed the material around with my other hand before ironing to make sure it was flat. I was also careful of the buttons. Overall I found it easy although Barbara and I planned to have one more session ironing the same shirt. After lunch I had a session with Jude. We talked about a couple of things regarding the Swish tournament, particularly prizes and food, which I have organised to go and buy next week.
The entire of Wednesday was devoted to helping at a junior disability sports day run by the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation. I was invited to showcase Swish. This had been another thing that I was nervous about this week. Halberg picked up our Swish table on Tuesday afternoon and had it there ready for us. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Jude and Suzannah came with three other Kickstart students and I. Two of the other girls helped out with Goalball and blind cricket while the other student from Kickstart helped me with Swish. The day was broken up into brackets. Different sports were showcased in each bracket. Swish was in the second one. When we got there we set up the table and the four of us had a game. That got the attention of others who were passing by so we managed to get some of the students to play. Then it was time for the second bracket. The table was moved into the hall. It had been organised so that a group of sixteen students would come and play Swish in that second bracket but in the end that’s not how it worked. There were other sports in the same area so in the end a whole bunch of students circulated around the different sports. It was impossible to teach them the rules when there were so many students and they were always changing so instead they simply hit the ball back and forward on the table. At first I found it extremely difficult to know who was at the table, when they were changing players and if there was anyone waiting for a game. I was quite flustered about this, especially when a lady asked for someone to start directing Swish so that it was a bit more organised. Then Jude stood nearby and helped me to keep track of everyone which made me feel much better. I had a lot of positive feedback about Swish and all of the students seemed to enjoy themselves. Some parents even commented that they might try and modify a table tennis table so that their child can play at home, which was lovely to hear. To finish off we had a sausage for lunch before returning to Kickstart for the rest of the afternoon. Even though I hadn’t done anything other than stand around most of the morning I found it quite tiring. I enjoyed having the opportunity to get Swish out there a bit more and enjoyed seeing all the students having such a great time. I spent the rest of the afternoon getting bits and pieces done. Our Swish training for that afternoon was postponed as the table wasn’t back from the disability sports day yet.
Thursday brought the biggest challenge for the week for me and the one that I had been most nervous about. It was my O&M drop off. Shiree and her husband picked me up from Kickstart at 7:30. They drove me to an undisclosed location and dropped me off. Then Shiree and her husband disappeared leaving me to find my way back to Kickstart. I was incredibly thankful for GPS. I used it to firstly find out where I was. I discovered that I was in New Lynn, which is in west Auckland. One reason I had been so nervous about this challenge was because I don’t know Auckland all that well. I was worried that I would be dropped off in a place that I had never heard of so that I would have no bearings whatsoever. Luckily for me, I knew where New Lynn was, roughly. I had never been there before but I did know that it had a train station. So I used Google Maps to get directions to the station. It showed me a route to get there using public transport and directions to walk. I checked the walking directions first and decided that it seemed easy to follow. I don’t usually like buses too much, it wasn’t far to walk and walking wouldn’t take much longer than catching a bus would anyway. I wondered if catching a bus would be better because, in theory, it would drop me right at the station whereas walking can be a little confusing at times. I made sure that I wouldn’t need to cross a motorway or anything terrible before making my decision. I needed to make several uncontrolled crossings to get to the station as well as controlled ones. I used two apps for the challenge which I had discovered worked well in conjunction with each other. In the background I had Blind Square which regularly updated me with my location as well as pointing out points of interest along the way. I found that particularly useful as it told me when there were shops and cafes around me in case I needed to find someone to ask for help. I didn’t need any help though until I was close to the station. The directions that the GPS told me were quite confusing. I asked a lady who walked passed to give me directions to the station and she ended up guiding me right to the platform that I needed. Then I was easily able to board a train to Britomart and find a southern train from there to bring me back to Homai. I got back to Kickstart at 10:30 which meant it only took me three hours in total, which included being driven to the unknown location. I had been given six hours to complete the challenge so I was proud of that. When I got back to Homai Shiree and I talked over it. She said that I had done well. I told her that I had been expecting it to be much harder than it was. I had thought that she would take me somewhere much further away from a station. She said that it could have been a lot harder than it was if I didn’t have my GPS. I agreed. I would have had to use other clues and ask for a lot more help from people who walked passed me. I was very grateful that I had my GPS but I am sure that I still could have found my way without it. When I told Shiree that I found it too easy she offered to take me to another place further from a station for more of a challenge. She also offered to let me take on another similar challenge without using my GPS as it is not always guaranteed to work. I refused her offer even though I was tempted to challenge myself further. Shiree agreed with me as she had already seen that I had the skills that I would need should I ever be in that sort of situation. I was incredibly happy and grateful that I had completed that challenge. It also meant that I had finished another one of my goals for this semester. Shiree and I saw completing this goal as my graduation from O&M. I was excited about that and definitely feel that I am prepared for my next O&M challenge, that being getting a guide dog. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on this entry and doing other bits and pieces. To finish off the day we had a group session. After hours we had our Swish training session for this week. Three out of the five teams for the tournament were there so they played some games together to practice. I thought it went well and was happy to see the teams communicating and helping each other out where they could.
Friday was a nice day. We drove out to Pokeno where we were going on a river cruise down the Waikato River. We needed to be split into two groups. I was in the first group. Before we left on our cruise though they supplied us with morning tea which was lovely. Then myself, two other students and two staff members climbed onto the boat. The cruise took an hour in total. As we went the skipper told us some information about where we were, its history and what sorts of things were around us on the banks. It was a lovely and relaxing hour. When we got back the second group left for their cruise. While they were cruising we waited onboard the other boat that the company owns. It is a much larger luxury boat that can be hired out for day trips, functions or overnight trips. We sat in the lounge which was very comfortable. When the other group arrived back we all drove up to the redoubt nearby where we ate lunch. On the way back to Kickstart we stopped to have an ice cream at the famous ice cream shop in Pokeno. They are cheap, give you big scoops and have a huge selection of flavours to choose from. I always love having an ice cream from Pokeno so it was a lovely way to end a nice day out.
Until next time.