Jocelyn | Manurewa

Well, it depends on your definition of kindness I suppose, but one of the things I really like, particularly here in Manurewa, is when you walk down the street, people smile at you, and they say, hello. Now, that may not be kindness, but to me it is lovely.

I teach tai chi at the Homai School for the Blind. It’s called BLENNZ, which is Blind Low Vision Education Network New Zealand, and because I’m a tai chi teacher I had the idea that blind people should be able to do tai chi as well. So, I offered my time as a volunteer just to see if it would work, and I must admit I was blown away.

I’m teaching a number of 18-year olds who are in their last year of education, and they learn far quicker than my sighted students. We have such a lot of laughs, and it’s really good for them, and the difference to them is it means they don’t fall over as often. That’s it. You imagine being an 18-year-old, and one of your biggest problems in life is that you will fall over and hurt yourself, and if I can make a difference in that, if they fall over less often, if they enjoy life, if they learn something useful, then that’s great.

Well, I needed to wear glasses since I was 14 years old, so I’ve always valued the fact that I’ve got sight, and I’m fortunate to live in a time where glasses can correct that, the particular vision problem I have. So, I’ve always been aware of sight, and just my feeling was with blind students and tai chi; tai chi is something you can do anywhere, anytime, anyplace. You can be, it doesn’t require expensive equipment or clothing. So, I initially felt blind people could do tai chi anywhere. They didn’t have to go out and pound the streets, or drive to a gym, but also because it’s so good with confidence, it’s so good with balance, and it’s so good for your health. I just think, well why shouldn’t they have a go at it, just like anyone else? I mean, there’s purists out there that say tai chi should just be done in a way like Bruce Lee does, well we can’t all be Bruce Lee, you know, but why shouldn’t we have a go at tai chi? That’s what I think.

My parents always talked about, you are part of a community, and it doesn’t matter where you’re in that community, but it takes a village to raise a child. So, they were always caring for people. My dad used to have people helping him in the garden, and these might have been members of the community that had lost their job, or maybe they’d been in prison, or maybe they weren’t well, and it was like a rehabilitation scheme to help them learn to grow things, and there was always extra people that would come for dinner or lunch, and I don’t know how my mum fed us all, and extra people, but she would just say, there is always enough for everyone.

So, yeah I did learn it from mum and dad, and I was fortunate enough to meet a man in my life who I married really young, and I’m still married to, who thinks the same way as well.

It’s certainly important because as the song goes, we do need a lot more kindness. “You’ve got to try a little kindness.” You know that song. You probably don’t; you’re too young. But, kindness doesn’t necessarily mean something hard or difficult. As I said, it can be a smile to someone, just to say you’ve noticed them, or you can help someone cross the road, or for instance; after my tai chi class I went to a retirement village where I have a friend who’s 97 years old, and I went there and I read to her, because her eyesight’s not that good anymore. You know, it doesn’t cost anything but a little bit of time, and I really enjoy her company. So, just little things, and I think maybe people don’t realise, it just takes little things to get you started.

I grew up in New Plymouth, in Taranaki. I’m the youngest of five children. I was really lucky. I was brought up in a home where both parents loved me. I’m sure they didn’t intend to have five kids but I’m really glad they did, and I just remember my dad had a huge garden. My mum used to teach music, and there was always laughter and fun in the house. There were always outings on Sunday, and picnics and things like that, and they always encouraged us to have an education.  So, we all left school, and went to some sort of tertiary education. In my case it was teacher’s college.”

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