This is the second blog about Lois and Nicki’s amazing visit to Australasia – this time theirTalking Mats trip to New Zealand.
The view flying into New Zealand was dramatic. We looked down on a beautiful range of snow topped mountains glistening in the clear blue sky as our plane flew towards Christchurch. Our first stop was the South island for a foundation training organised by Talk Link. Our second foundation training was in Auckland in the North Island. At both places we had a fantastic group of interested practitioners who really engaged with how Talking Mats could be used and began thinking creatively about how they would apply in their work place .This included:
• Involving thinkers in decisions about the their alternative and augmentative communication and getting feedback on what works for them
• Exploring its value for young people in the youth justice system to support them to express their views and be a tool for increasing engagement
• Exploring how Talking Mats could be adapted to make them more accessible and culturally accepted to the Maori community
• Involving children in their education planning
We were really pleased that Talk Link also sent 3 staff to the accredited training course in Australia. This means that there will be increased access to Talking Mats Foundation training in New Zealand for the future. Our experience is that accredited trainers provide leadership that helps organisations embed Talking Mats into practice. Thanks to Ann Smaill for all her organising and support for both our Foundation and Accredited courses.
And our leisure times were special too. We had a trip on the Christchurch Gondola to see the stunning Banks peninsula; we experienced the hope and resilience of Christchurch following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. In Auckland we saw a thought provoking Maori exhibition and last but not least we loved our weekend of rest and relaxation on the very special island of Waiheke. The locals thought us mad to swim in the sea their autumn but we loved it!
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