Rotorua’s Krystal Roberts has been having a very busy but successful 2020.
In the third and final year of her He Korowai Ākonga (Bachelor of Education – Primary Teaching) degree at the Waiwhero campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, she’s also taken part in the Miss Rotorua contest where she was second runner-up in the Mana Wahine section.
And she has started a Facebook page aimed at people like herself who have experienced learning difficulties.
Krystal, 27, was diagnosed with dyslexia at 12, which meant reading and information processing issues for her. She and her whānau had to come to terms with feelings of confusion and being blamed, as well as dealing with getting help for the condition.
Teachers, she feels, sometimes gave the impression she wasn’t going to “make it” which was “very disempowering”and she says people with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, ADHD and foetal alcohol syndrome can all face a stigma.
However, she has enjoyed Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and the principles and values it espouses which she feels have armed her well for working with tamariki.
“For someone who feels marginalised in the education system, I have enjoyed the Wānanga.”
Krystal feels it’s important that teachers and the community in general have a better understanding of learning difficulties.
“My challenge to society, to even the teachers, is to do some research...to broaden their understanding.”
Following the Miss Rotorua contest, she created a Facebook support page, Ngā Tāpa Whā Learning Support Group, for people with dyslexia, ADHD and foetal alchol syndrome. The aim of it is to bring people together to find solutions from a holistic perspective and to share advice on getting assistance with such difficulties.
“Breaking the stigma is also important.”
Participating in Miss Rotorua, which involves a 12-week programme, helped her feel empowered, Krystal says.
“I joined to build up confidence and self-worth. Especially for me trying to come to acceptance of my learning difficulty, it was a real challenge.”
Krystal says her acceptance and confidence are climbing and she’s keen to help support others “especially those who have the same learning difficulty as me”.
Bachelor of Education (Primary) kaiako Karri-Ann Vercoe has complimented Krystal’s success so far. She said Krystal transferred to the Waiwhero campus from Mangakōtukutuku as a third-year student at the beginning of this year. Karri-Ann says that as a kaiako she understands “there are varying degrees of dyslexia and Krystal’s standard of written work has been of a high standard in my papers”.
“Everyone has strengths, and weaknesses,” says Karri-Ann. “I believe all people deserve to be given a chance to succeed in their dream and passion. Krystal has worked extremely hard, showing great determination and resilience. I wish Krystal all success during her final practicum.”