NZSDRT Conference 2023: Insights from Empowering Speakers and Impactful Moments

The weekend of the conference began with an early start on Friday morning to catch my flight to Wellington. Rebecca, who had arrived on an earlier flight, greeted me at the airport. It was great to meet in person. She was easy to recognise as we had been meeting regularly in Zoom meetings for a few years.

We rode an Uber to the hotel, located conveniently across the road from the Conference venue, dropped off our bags and headed out for breakfast. The conference venue opened at twelve, so we still had a bit of time till we went to set up.

Choosing our table, we set up the monitor and laid out our flyers. We chatted with attendees as they strolled past till the official opening began.

The next day brought many speakers to the stage and participants broke off into their workshop rooms around the venue. While we didn’t get to see all the speakers throughout the weekend, what we did see was impressive.

Melanie Humphries-Connolly’s Impact

The speaker that stuck in my mind was Melanie Humphries-Connolly, who spoke about the New Death Doula Movement. Melanie has a nursing background and is passionate about supporting people to live and die positively. She explained the services, such as education on the dying process and information on holistic spiritual and emotional support. Her natural, gentle and caring demeanour showed a genuine concern for the well-being of others.

On Sunday morning, the sound of Carolyn Mills's harp was enchanting as a delicate cascade of notes floated throughout the venue, transporting listeners to another world. I could have listened to that all morning. It was beautiful.

Supporting Young Onset Dementia

As the morning moved on, Yvonne Browning spoke, outlining the services for people with younger onset dementia in Aotearoa. She explained that YODAT was helping young people with the condition to live in their homes and communities for as long as possible. There is a need for age-appropriate facilities and services for this younger age group. I had seen this first-hand when we had a fifty-two-year-old come into care.

Empowering Through Sports

The concluding speaker was Dr. Richard Wright, whose passion for sports and commitment to empowering our clients to stay engaged with sports even when they can no longer actively participate was evident. He emphasised the importance of finding avenues, whether through discussions or adapted games, to keep the spirit of sports alive for individuals who love sports.

Closure and Looking Ahead

There were numerous awards and acknowledgements for the volunteers as the official closing took place. This was a well-organised and information-packed conference, and I hope to attend the next one in Auckland.

If you found this blog intriguing, check out my latest post, Embracing Change and Online Education. In this post, I reflect on my experience at the NZSDRT Annual Conference in Wellington, where I explored the exciting possibilities of online education in the field of Diversional and Recreational Therapy.

Thank you for being part of our journey to embrace positive change and education innovation. For updates on the next NZSDRT Conference and other exciting events, visit the NZSDRT website and stay connected with us on social media.

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