Andrea Walker and Jezka Birondo are equally passionate about their jobs as diversional and recreational therapists for Agecare Central as they are about Taranaki.

Their passion for both things will combine, with Taranaki being named as the host region for the 2021 New Zealand Society of Diversional and Recreational Therapists (NZSDRT) conference which will take place in August next year.

Andrea and Jezka are two of seven diversional therapists in Taranaki who formed a committee to work together to secure the hosting rights for the region, says Andrea.

"We put together a video showcasing the best of Taranaki, to inspire people to want to come to the region."

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The committee members all contributed, making short video clips of just some of the many attractions the region has to offer which Jezka then edited together into the finished product.

The video which featured Stratford's glockenspiel as well as the town's mayor, Neil Volzke, clearly won the hearts of the deciding judges who awarded the hosting rights to Taranaki.

The news meant a double celebration for Jezka and Andrea, as the day the successful bid was announced was the same day the two of them received their registration as diversional and recreational therapists, says Andrea.

"In fact, we will be formally graduating at the conference next year, meaning we get to graduate in our home region, which is really special."

It will also be the first time the conference is held in Taranaki.

While the committee members were all pleased with the news their bid was successful, there is no time to rest on their laurels, says Jezka.

"Now we really need help from any local businesses who want to get involved. We are looking for businesses to help by providing sponsorship for the conference, or to contribute to welcome packs we will be putting together for the conference delegates, as well as prizes for the raffles we will run during the conference."

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Winning the hosting rights was thanks to the hard work of all the committee members, says Andrea.

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"The committee is made up of therapists from all around Taranaki, and we spent a lot of time together on this bid, We all did our bit on this. Going forward we are going to get together with all the diversional therapists in Taranaki to ensure we make Taranaki proud."

Bringing the conference to the region is great for businesses all over Taranaki, Andrea says.

"It means people will be coming to Taranaki, staying in hotels, spending money in local shops and restaurants. It is good for everyone."

Jezka says another positive outcome is that the conference will showcase the work done by diversional therapists in elder care across the country. It is, she says, a rewarding career.

"It really is my passion. It is so meaningful the work we do, it is an amazing thing to do."

Andrea agrees.

"I love being able to make a difference to the lives of the elderly. By making special memories with them, we bring happiness to their lives each day."

Jezka says diversional therapists in rest homes are essential.

"Without them, it is the same every day, it is like seeing in black and white. The work we do adds colour."