Tui Ora Programmes: Ashley Fulton

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November 29, 2023

Te Rourou Pai Oranga (Nutrition Programme) and Taputapu Mātua (Parenting Programme) have enabled me to find my confidence this year, strengthened my parenting skills, and taught me how to better communicate with my husband.

Growing up was tough for me. At 13, following my parents divorce, I was couch surfing, drinking heavily and skipping school – or turning up to school drunk.

At 16 I went to live with my Nana and, while things were better, I couldn’t shake the alcohol addiction which led to an arrest at 19-years-old, and a court order to attend addictions counselling at Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu Charitable Trust.

I completed some counselling but I wasn’t ready to stop drinking. At the time, I didn’t think I had a problem.

But, things continued to spiral and I found myself in trouble with the Police again. It all became too much for me and I attempted to take my own life. My family had completely washed their hands of me and I was feeling alone and lost. I decided it was time to sort myself out and I came back to counselling at Nga Kete. This time, I was ready for the support.

The counsellor enabled me to open up, be honest, and gave me ideas of how I could fill my time without having a drink.

At 24-years-old I became pregnant and had two babies within a short time. They were my life savers. It wasn’t long after, I had completely overcome my alcohol addiction. I wasn’t interested in it anymore.

It was around this time my husband decided to seek support for alcohol addiction, and he began addictions counselling at Nga Kete. I watched him rebuild himself through this and he too overcame his alcohol addiction.

After all of this, I decided I needed to make some changes in my life. I wanted to get out in to the community. I started volunteering at a local primary school in the community garden and later in the canteen, and that’s when I noticed an advertisement for a nutrition course run by Nga Kete in the school newsletter.

I was interested in learning how to make a meal before pay day when you have nothing in your cupboards and bendy vegetables. I would often throw them away and feed the children cereal for dinner. But, in the first week the facilitator had taught me how to make a soup with the leftover vegetables.

I have learnt how to better hide vegetables in meals to encourage my children to eat better. I also don’t like wasting anything so if I can use it, I will. The participants of the course have also started a group chat where we share recipes and tips and tricks.

After the nutrition course I decided to also do the parenting course. I was interested to learn new tips and tricks and add some more tools to my parenting toolbox.

The course showed me that my husband and I parent differently, which I had never noticed. It helped me to understand him better and our relationship is now the best its ever been!

I have also learnt to use the “I-statement” rather than the “you-statement”:  You-Statements emphasize Blame, I-Statements take responsibility. Starting a sentence with “you” sets the speaker up to focus on the listener's actions rather than their own experience. I-Statements, in contrast, encourage the speaker to take full responsibility for their feelings and needs.

I have also learnt that it is important to have a reason as to why I am saying no to my children. I had a habit of saying no just for the sake of saying no.

These programmes have really helped me. I honestly feel I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken part. The facilitator has enabled me to be more confident as a person, my parenting is so much better, and my husband and I are communicating better than we ever have before.

I also feel that all of the course participants have empowered each other and built each other up, and I am so grateful to have been a part of that. The women in the group are in my life daily now and we support each other with our kids – some days 10 children at one playdate! These women drive me to be better.

I intend to keep doing what I am doing. I have also just been offered a paid job at the school as a teacher aide, which was my dream!

Everything has worked out perfectly.

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