Published 14 March 2019
Joshua Perry is determined to show the world that having a disability doesn’t have to hold you back.
The 27 year-old from Dunedin, who lives with cerebral palsy, wants to be an MP and become the first disability minister in a wheelchair.
He already has an impressive list of achievements: he runs his own business; he was the first disabled person in a wheelchair to go down the catwalk at New Zealand Fashion Week; he stood for the ACT Party at the 2017 election; and he is a graduate of Otago Polytechnic with a Diploma in Marketing.
Joshua is passionate about ensuring disabled people have a voice. He wants to make the world a better place.
Setting up his own business
After noticing that he almost never saw disabled people out at bars and nightclubs, Joshua decided he wanted to get more disabled people socialising in mainstream situations.
To do this he set up Enabling Love, an inclusive dating service catered towards people with disabilities.
“I think if we get disabled people into those situations a lot more then it's going to be better for society in the long term,” Joshua says.
He says when it comes to dating, disabled people struggle with the same things everyone else does.
“They struggle with knowing what to say, knowing how to say it, knowing how to express themselves.”
Enabling Love offers a safe platform for people to make connections with others.
It also holds regular social events. These are only held in Dunedin, but Joshua hopes to expand these to other centres.
He says the events are important because some people have limited internet access but still want to meet people.
To help him run Enabling Love, Joshua has an assistant, Bronwyn Ramsay.
“We catch up with emails and registrations of members and prepare pamphlets and bits and pieces for events. Whatever he's got on his mind, and he comes up with lots of ideas. It's all go with him, it's never a dull moment,” Bronwyn says.
Joshua is working on developing an app for Enabling Love.
His proudest achievements.
Joshua says starting Enabling Love is one of his proudest achievements, but it’s not the only one.
“I've stood for the ACT Party in 2017 at the last election.
“I have also been the first disabled person down the catwalk at New Zealand fashion week. That was a huge moment because I felt like, well, I can actually change people's views about disability when it comes to fashion and the media and that was huge.”
Joshua is passionate about politics and hopes to become an MP.
“I hope to be the first disability minister in a wheelchair, so that would be pretty special. I think that's going to be an important thing to achieve in years to come because it will give disabled people the confidence to go for politics.”
He believes it’s important that people with disabilities are represented in government.
“[I’m] just trying to ensure that disabled people get a voice when it comes to things like achieving their goals, creating innovation, and ensuring that they have a good life for themselves.”
Living a good life
For Joshua, living a good life means living independently, having his own voice and being around friends.
He lives independently in a property he owns with his parents.
“We got this place in January of last year which is 2018. I've just been very lucky to find this place and it's something that I plan to renovate.”
Joshua says having independent funding has been very important to his overall wellbeing.
“It helps me from day to day make my own decisions in regards to who I want caring for me and I'm able to employ my own people so that's really good. I have guys that come in to get me up in the morning, to put me into bed at night, to give me lunch when I'm on my lunch break at work and stuff like that. All the usual stuff that comes with living with disability.”
For Joshua, having autonomy to make decisions is one of the most important things.
“It's very important because it gives you confidence to achieve your goals that you want to achieve. It's also very good because it means you can change the times that you want them to come and go.”
Joshua says one of the biggest challenges he faces is people’s incorrect perceptions of him.
“You've just got to rise to the challenge and not let anything stand in your way to getting to your goals and that's what I have done.”