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Unique pair will fly pink to Mardi Gras

Mon 22 Feb 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News

Shaun McKinney and Anna Nelson will fly on this Friday's Air New Zealand Pink Flight to Sydney Mardi Gras, thanks to a peer support network which realises "sometimes all it takes is a common experience to realise that you are not as unique as you think." Unique travellers: Anna Nelson last April at the first design forum to establish Diversityworks Trust's Peer Support Network. Both share the experience of disability, though they prefer to think of it as unique function.   McKinney, 24, is an openly gay member of Rainbow Youth,  and Nelson, 30, is exploring her sexual preference. She also co-ordinates the Peer Support Network.  "Towards the end of 2009 I told Anna I'd really like to go to Mardi Gras," McKinney explains. "And Anna encouraged me to follow my dream."    Recognising her interest as well as her organisational abilities, he asked her if she would like to join him. "Who was I to say no?" laughs Nelson. Diversityworks' Peer Support Network uses a mix of online chats, social networking, Skype and phone chats, texting and face-to-face meet-ups, to keep disabled people and others in touch with each other. They also run workshops, with topics prioritised by network members. The Network has forty members and is currently recruiting new members from the disability and wider communities. "Peer Support gave Shaun and Anna a safe and relaxed place to connect, share and grow together through their commonalities and differences," said Diversityworks Trust's Director, comedian and social entrepreneur Philip Patston. "And now they're benefitting by travelling overseas together. That's exactly the kind of magic we were hoping for when we decided to set up the Network." McKinney and Nelson will fly to Sydney on the Air New Zealand Pink Flight this Friday, see the Parade on Saturday, and experience Harbour '10 - the HarbourSide LGBT party held in the Sydney Botanical Gardens - on Sunday. They will be accompanied by one of Nelson's support workers.    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Monday, 22nd February 2010 - 3:53pm

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