Glen Terry is a key contributor to the disability community in Hamilton.
The 24-year-old is a member of the Enabling Good Lives Waikato Leadership Group, which provides advice to government agencies on how people with a disability can be supported to live everyday lives.
Glen has Down syndrome, and uses his experiences in life and personal insight to provide information and advice. He says it is important to ensure those with a disability are heard.
“I talk to disabled people about Enabling Good Lives and tell the group what they say. I help the group remember why the project started, so the people like me get a voice.”
Glen has also been influential in shaping government policy on disability issues through his role as a consumer advisor to the Health and Disability Commission.
He says it is important people understand how to listen to those with a learning disability; “People need to be able to talk to those with learning disabilities in a way they understand and give them time to give answers.”
Glen is also hoping to have an influence in the education sector. Last year, he spoke to all secondary school teaching graduates at the University of Waikato and was filmed speaking to first year teaching students to provide a perspective of what school was like for people with an intellectual disability.
He wants to have an impact in years to come on teachers, by raising awareness and changing attitudes. Glen enjoys sharing his experiences with others and regularly speaks to groups both big and small, letting them know about his input and what changes are coming in the future.
Glen takes any opportunity he is presented to speak up for those with a disability and change perceptions in the world around him. He is also involved in a number of other activities, including Special Olympics football and basketball, as well as StarJam, which provides music and performance opportunities for young people with disabilities.
Glen says he is lucky to have such a supportive family, and couldn’t be making the impact he is without them. He is also hopeful that his success so far will inspire and motivate other young people living with a disability.
“Don’t be afraid and step up, know your disability and what you need to help you. There are lots of great people out there who will help, and keep looking till you find the right one. The right person will be respectful, and listen to you.”