Kia ora! Ko Neelu toku ingoa. I was born and raised in sunny Dunedin by my hardworking parents, migrants from Kenya who both worked at Otago University. Shortly after turning 16 I fell sick following a snowboarding trip. I fell into a coma for four months and sustained a major brain injury. Upon regaining consciousness I had to relearn coordination, how to walk, talk, and swallow. My sight and balance never returned. These are disabilities I now live with. The transition from being a fit, adventure loving teen to becoming disabled has made the myriad of inequalities that my community face obvious, and ignited a passion for equity.
I hold a Masters in Disability Policy and am a Mum of two. Presently I work to increase community integration and influence social change through sport. I want a society that values every person regardless of any factor including ability- and shows this by ensuring equitable access to all parts of life- including services, transport, education, employment, housing, and information among others. But legislation alone cannot fix these barriers. It is only when we learn to support each other, and our unique environment that we can build a thriving Aotearoa.