IHC buddies become pals

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013
Lily Boss
GREAT FRIENDS: Lily Boss, 24, left, and Cushla Taylor, 34,have developed a strong bond through IHC Auckland’s friendship programme

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The friendship shared between Lily Boss and Cushla Taylor has taught the pair important lessons and virtues.

The two met through IHC Auckland's friendship programme two years ago where volunteers are matched with intellectually disabled people and spend time together on a regular basis.

Miss Taylor, 34, is autistic and has Asperger's and foetal alcohol syndrome.

She belongs to A Supported Life, an organisation that arranges living environments for people with intellectual disabilities, and lives in a flat in Te Atatu South.

Miss Taylor says it's nice being able to talk to someone outside the organisation.

"Lily is really lovely to me and it's nice to have a break and go out with her," she says.

Double dates are often a favourite activity for the friends as Miss Boss' fiance Leon Hewitt is also matched with Miss Taylor's husband-to-be Gabe Ashby, who is also a member of IHC Auckland.

Miss Boss says although it's nice spending time with the boys, it's fun having girl time.

Shopping, getting coffee and wedding planning are among the activities they enjoy together.

Tenpin bowling is also another favourite - although there's always a clear winner. Miss Taylor and Mr Ashby have just returned from the Special Olympics in Dunedin with an array of medals to boast including gold and silver in tenpin bowling for Miss Taylor.

Mr Ashby was awarded a bronze medal in basketball.

Miss Boss lives in New Lynn and says her friendship with Miss Taylor has given her a different perspective on life.

"It's made me see things a lot differently and to not take things for granted.

"Seeing how happy Cushla is when we go out for a cuppa is really nice," she says.

"It's a good way to give back to the community but I've also made a good friend."

IHC Auckland's volunteer co-ordinator David Lew says the matched friends can do all kinds of things together including learning to ride the bus, getting the confidence to apply for jobs or going to concerts together.

"A lot of people with disabilities don't get the chance to get out of the house or interact with a wider circle of people.

"Having a friend gives them a new way to live their life and do things they wouldn't have done before," he says.

The programme has been running for six years and more than 50 IHC Auckland members have been matched with volunteers.

Call 0800 442 442 or visit ihc.org.nz to volunteer or for more information.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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