Sights set on achieving goal

By Hannah Norton

He might be working with aluminium in his new job but he's aiming for gold.

Josh Cooke, an 18-year-old who has Down Syndrome, is saving up to head to the Special Olympic National Powerlifting Championships in Dunedin in December.

He'd tried for months to get a job after moving up with his family from Dunedin in December last year, and in an attempt to end his boredom at home, approached The Northern Advocate last month.

In Dunedin he'd worked part-time as an office helper at a realty company, doing tasks like putting photo books and flat packs together, and using his powerlifting skills to move office furniture.

He had a fantastic reference from the company, and was looking for a similar job here.

On the same day his story was printed in The Northern Advocate, his mother Sharon was contacted by several Whangarei businesses offering him a position.

Whangarei Aluminium's co-owner and operator Leonie Reed said her husband Clayton saw the article about Josh online and contacted his mother that day.

Josh now works alongside Clayton's father, Len Reed, as a storeman on Wednesday and Friday mornings, Mrs Reed said.

"It's been great. He's fit in well. It's been lovely having him on board," she said.

"He enjoys morning tea with them [his fellow workers] and he's a wonderful baker and on the odd occasion will bring baking in."

Josh shares a birthday with Clayton Reed, and Mrs Reed says she is looking forward to the morning tea that day.

Josh says he likes his job and his favourite parts include cleaning the floors, clearing rubbish and squashing the cardboard boxes.

He recently got his first paycheck, a large portion of which was going to his special savings account for his Dunedin trip.

His mother, Sharon Cooke, said he no longer complains of being bored.

"In fact, I said to him, do you like your job and he said: "I love it."

Another Whangarei company to contact her was Raumanga gym Fitness Plan, where Josh now works also, putting in two afternoons a week.

There he washes the equipment, and sometimes even gets the chance to practise his beloved powerlifting, Mrs Cooke said.


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