Shelley Robinson has experienced many ups and downs over her daughter Ruby's life.
Eighteen-year-old Ruby has global developmental delay and autism, and Shelley had been worried about her future for some time. Leaving school was one of those worries.
She was concerned about how her daughter would transition into the real world – a world filled with many physical, social, and attitudinal obstacles.
Research shows that when people with disabilities finish school, it can be incredibly challenging to embed into communities, to find paid employment and make money to enable self-worth and to live well.
Shelley wanted to do something about this and set up Chrome Cafe in Katikati over three years ago with the intention to employ as many people with a disability as she could.
Her next big dream was to set up a community collective where individuals with and without disabilities could work alongside one another to create products for sale. But she was held back by a lack of energy and support.
It was only after attending a conference last year with families and agencies around the school transition that she connected with a charity that would help turn her dream into a reality.
"I ended up sitting with Jane Ford from Parent to Parent, and I found her really engaging. She was there to learn as well as offer support to families and liaise between all groups represented.
"By the end of the two days, I was really quite overwhelmed and relieved that I may have found a way forward for my daughter as well as many others. Jane has since been supporting me with all the advice and information I need to help bring my idea to life."
Now, the Chrome Collective is almost ready to open up. Entrepreneurs with a disability will use the workspace and retail space to come up with an idea and create goods for sale.
By creating this employment and training opportunity and encouraging participation from different groups within our community, Shelley hopes social barriers can be broken down, and acceptance and support can be created.
Shelley says it wouldn't have been possible without the support of Parent to Parent.
"Parent to Parent is so valuable because they are working really hard to support us, parents, with a true understanding of how challenging it can be.
"I really needed this to happen, to have belief and faith that we can actually lead meaningful lives. Because this is a very real concern for all families who have someone with a disability. I am very excited to be setting up this venture and would like to see it in every community.
"We are working very closely now with the Taiao here in Katikati, and through networking have major community support. From my perspective, the fact I have been supported by Parent to Parent, even with just a phone call, has kept the momentum and focus going in the right direction."
Parent to Parent is a charity that empowers families of people with disabilities and health impairments through free information and support.
Coastal Bay of Plenty Regional co-ordinator Jane Ford says their work with 1996 families in the Western Bay of Plenty is important for the families' wellbeing.
"What you find is a lot of the parents are just so lonely as they are busy trying to survive, trying to keep their family together.
"Being able to connect parents together so they can be with like-minded people that understand is so important - they've got so much information to give themselves to the other parents. What's really special though is the friendships with the children, siblings, and parents."
TECT has supported Parent to Parent Coastal Bay of Plenty since 2004 with over $50,000 in funding. Jane says the funding helps the charity make a real difference in families' lives.
"TECT's funding is so vital as we get no government support. It makes such a huge difference, as it covers our operating costs, and we can put that towards any of our programmes here in the Bay."
Jane says seeing Shelley come such a long way has also been a special experience.
"When I met Shelley at a workshop a year ago, she had no faith in the system. Now she has come so far and is supporting other families. That's pretty special and cool for me to see. TECT's funding is making it happen."