Reckon you could be a buddy for Nathan? There's a job opening for it
When Jayden Crossan met Nathan Hartley a year ago, he wasn't sure what to expect.
The then 18-year-old's dad had seen an ad in the paper looking for someone to help a 19-year-old with down syndrome and as Crossan was already studying towards being a teacher aide it seemed like it could be good experience for him.
One year on, Crossan and Hartley have become close friends.
"Even if I got a full time job and it wasn't paid, I'd still come hang out with him, because I don't see it as a job anymore, the pay's just a perk," Crossan said.
While Crossan and Hartley work well together, Hartley's mum Susie Roberts said she was looking for one or two more people to help out with him.
"I always try and have about three support workers and that's mainly to make sure if one's sick there's someone there and also it just keeps that circle going and it's not such a big deal if one leaves because there's the other two there but it's getting harder to find them," she said.
The idea of getting together friends for Hartley came from trying to create a "normal life experience" for him, Roberts said.
"At his age he'd be hanging out with his mates," she said.
So, when he was going through Devon Intermediate, in New Plymouth, a few of his classmates would help him out around the school.
"They used to be called Nathan's heros and he'd have a bunch of kids in the classroom that would look after him, hang out with him, make sure he's ok and stuff like that," she said.
"As he's got older that seems a little bit cheesy so we call them just Nathan's buddies. Jayden is one of Nathan's buddies."
Crossan now works as a teacher aide at Welbourn School and Roberts said men interested in that line of work were as rare as hen's teeth.
But for Crossan it was always a path he had considered since playing rugby at Tukapa.
"I started off coaching little kids rugby for my rugby club and a few of the parents said I'm really good with the kids and stuff and it's always something that I've wanted to do," he said.
He takes Hartley to his various activities throughout the week, including jazz practise, football, bowling, basketball and swimming, as well as doing other things like taking the dog for a walk or getting a burger together.
Roberts turned to MyCare, an online platform connecting people needing support or help with others in their community, who advertised her position on Facebook and Instagram in an effort to connect with more young.
Roberts said she always made sure the people who came to help were paid more than minimum wage.
"It's not your 9 to 5, it's about giving yourself and who you are to this young man. I want you to be like a big brother to him.
"I pay because it's not your normal run-of-the-mill job."