MINT makes winter ball accessible for all

by Kim Bowden - Jul 09, 2024

A ball held in Wānaka over the weekend was a chance for people living with disabilities to dress up, take to a dance floor, and mingle in a social situation they can often be excluded from.

A DJ spun some tunes, there was a bar set up for drinks, and Edgewater Hotel served up some sweet kai for 45 attendees.

On arrival, there was a pop-up make-up station offering some additional 'bling' in the form of face jewellery and glitter to get people in the party zone, then there was a 'Float Booth' photo booth to capture all the fun.

From left, Simon Scaife, Zac Scott, Morgan James, and Emma Pearce and Scott Welch at at the MINT Winter Ball in Wānaka (Images: Supplied/MINT).

The winter event was a first of its kind for Wanaka-based charitable trust MINT.

MINT programme manager Charlotte Jackson says people travelled from Invercargill, Arrowtown and Alexandra to attend the ball, and it was "cool" the crew of people that MINT supports in Wānaka had the opportunity to host them.

While a school ball may be a rite of passage for many Kiwis, there are others who miss out on the experience.

"We really wanted to put one on. It was a chance to experience a social event like that, but being able to adapt it to everyone's needs was really important.

"They can be really overwhelming, so we wanted to create an opportunity for people to be able to come along to something like that at their own pace."

Noise-cancelling earphones were on hand, there were quiet spaces to retreat to, and people had the chance to familiarise themselves with the venue beforehand with photos sent out as required.

Ms Jackson says enabling independence was also important for the organisers.

"So most people came without parents, which was really nice."

She says "a big team of support people" made that possible.

The winter ball was supported with funding from Te Hau Toka Connecting Communities Fund.

MINT hopes to make the ball an annual event, extending the invite wider to bring people from around the country to town for the occasion.

Keen to learn more about the work MINT does in the community? Check out this mini-documentary produced by Crux in partnership with The Beards a few years back: Southern Lens - We are perfect as we are.

Main image (Supplied/MINT): Hailey Throne and Renon Sasaki at the inaugural MINT Winter Ball in Wānaka.


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