Ramps Up, Barriers Down
Meet Dion Wilson. Dion is a Tokoroa local who’s found an entirely new world of exploration and opportunities through the Tokoroa to Hamilton bus service.
Born and raised in Tokoroa, he’s a face that many of you will recognise. Dion was not alive when he was born due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. After a harrowing ten minutes, the doctors were able to revive him. After many doctor and specialist appointments as a baby he was initially diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
“I lived a long time of my life thinking I had Cerebral Palsy, but I saw new specialists further down the track in my life and I was told I was wrongly diagnosed. My condition is called Dystonia,” Dion explained. Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes muscles to contract involuntarily. This can result in slow repetitive movements, cramps, or abnormal posture.
Although having a disability his entire life, Dion is completely independent and the introduction of wheelchair ramps to the South Waikato Connector service and the Tokoroa to Hamilton service has given Dion a new lease on life. “I used to feel stuck in Tokoroa, even heading up to Hamilton for an appointment at the hospital was a mission to organise,” said Dion.
Now Dion heads up to Hamilton at least once a week, for free, to explore places he’s never been before. Some of his favourite places include Chartwell and the Base. “I got to go to Mystery Creek for the first time ever to see Fieldays, I’ve always wanted to go so it felt good ticking that one off my list,” Dion added.
Dion will even make shorter trips to Putāruru or Tīrau for a change of scenery and to check out the rest of the South Waikato.
Dion explores Hamilton on his motorised, stick controlled wheelchair and he says he’s slowly learning all the different bus routes in Hamilton. Although, he has had some close calls where he has explored for so long, he nearly ran out of battery in his chair, or missed the bus back home.
The Tokoroa to Hamilton service was introduced in February this year and it is now seeing up to 1,000 people use the service per month. Up to 50 of these users are disabled people.
“It’s important for other disabled people in the district to know that this service is accessible to them because it opens opportunities and changes up your everyday routines,” said Dion.
“There’s a long way to go for accessibility in this country, but this is a great step in the right direction.” Dion concluded.
Issued by Brooke Sullivan, Communications Advisor
on behalf of the South Waikato District Council, Torphin Crescent, Tokoroa.
Phone: 07 855 0769 Email: Brooke.Sullivan@southwaikato.govt.nz