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Thriving Madly

We believe it is through mutual connection that we will weather the storms of life, crafting wisdom and beauty along the way, that will benefit not only ourselves and each other, but also the broader community

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Thriving Madly is a charitable trust that aims to journey as and alongside Mad, Divergent and Neurodivergent people, families and communities to improve our status as citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.  Our focus is community transformation through connection.

We share our unique worldviews, wisdom, skills and creativity, to provide opportunities for the community to understand us and our experiences better.  We also aim to increase connections and participation opportunities within the community by growing spaces that are comfortable, accessible and welcoming of our diversity.

There are a number of projects that people can participate in or contribute to.  We wish to be a community that supports ideas that are driven from within.  Check out our project page to find out more about what our community has brought to life and find out how to get involved.

But who ARE we?

Thriving Madly is a community.  We passionately believe that each and every person that participates or attends our events contributes to our community is therefore part of Thriving Madly. 

Whether a person is an audience member, performer, community connection event facilitator or attender, board member or connects with us through our Facebook page, we are all Thriving Madly.   Just like the image above, where each grain of sand, in it’s unique colour, composition and position plays a role in the crafting of the beautiful mandala, so too it is with the Thriving Madly community.  Each person brings their unique vibrancy, passion, worldview, and plays a role in crafting who we are and what we do.   The Thriving Madly mandala.

In order to support our community we have established a charitable trust and registered as a charity.  We also have a Maori Ropu, which feeds through ideas and supports our activities.  Our board is made up of passionate humans who are focused on bringing to life a community built on connection,  growing together and celebrating difference.

Our current board members:

  • Hannah Whittaker-Komatsu

  • Kim Boyce

  • Karen Stevens

  • Karen Whittaker

  • Renee Barclay

  • Kelly Pope

  • Loren Harris

  • Joe Mulitalo

Why would you use the word Mad? Why not just say Mentally Ill?

There are many ways that people who have a lived experience of mental distress can identify.  Thriving Madly use the identity of Mad as a way of honouring the people who have been involved in the Mad Movement, both hear in Aotearoa and internationally.  This movement brought about the changes to how people who are identified as experiencing ‘mental illness’ have been treated within our community and also within the services contracted to ‘care’ for them, many of which we have benefited from.  These gains are massive, but there is still more work to do. 

The language of Neurodivergent and Divergent, comes from the idea of Neurodiversity.  Brought into being by sociologist Judy Singer in 1998, this belief holds that there is a wide range in how the human brain operates and this can bring about all kinds of different ways of being in the world.  This diversity is not a result of illness or disease, rather it is just another part of the uniqueness of people, and the wonderful ways that we as humans are distinct from one another.  In the past these differences have been seen as being disorder and with that has come stigma, prejudice and discrimination.  This has furthered the oppression that Neurominorities experience, disabling them and placing limitations on their lives.

There are of course more typical ways of being, which are referred to as Neurotypical. Those of us who traverse the landscape outside of this, who may identify as Neurodivergent.  For others, they may not believe their difference lies within their brain’s neuro-space, or may not be confident that science has identified this, but they still celebrate the fact that their experience of life is less typical than many, and so they choose Divergent.

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