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Darling-Mei Brown – Hamilton

“Lockdown was pretty good because I could TikTok and I did classes with my tutors. I was calling my tutor and my friends during Lockdown.

I downloaded TikTok on the app, it was easy from the store. I have two accounts; I use one for my Snapchat. I have followers from all over the world.

I follow people on TikTok and some people think I’m famous on TikTok.

Everyone comes to my brother’s house and we do some tiktokking and my sister does tiktokking.

I like changing the look on TikTok. I have stars going through my face and glasses. I jump out of the rubbish bin.

I did a video every day. My best song was Bob Marley, Three Little Birds.

Singing: “Don’t worry about a thing,

‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.

‘Don’t worry about a thing,

‘Cause every little thing, gonna be all right!”

I went live on some Facebook groups. I do cooking on TikTok as well. Eggs on toast.

Mum teaches me cooking. I do my bed in the morning as well.

We did karaoke, cooking, waiata, Life Fit online. I want to play some sport now. I want to play netball, I want to stop people shooting the goals. I like javelin and I like rowing. I do star jumps at fitness and I did Special Olympics at Fairfield College.

Harata is my best friend at the marae and Barry is my favourite. Barry is a twin and I can tell the difference between Barry and Philip. Ayla is my friend too and Crystal.

I was not sad about Lockdown, I was excited. Lockdown was about coronavirus. People spread it around. I washed my hands every day, all the time.

The coronavirus is not going to come back. It’s not coming back because we’re not doing Lockdown anymore. We have to be careful about the germs.

My tutor Alex took me to lunch at Raglan. I had a burger and chips and my tutor had bacon and eggs.

It’s cool making friends. I did nothing with my days before, I watched television.

I feel happy now.”

Heather Brown / MOTHER

“Lockdown didn’t faze Darling-Mei but it fazed me. We had to find ways to not argue.

Everything has changed for us since she went into Enabling Good Lives. Darling-Mei is 24 but from the time she turned 21 until March last year, she just stayed in her bedroom.

I said to Winz ‘someone has forgotten us, it’s not fair on her. She can’t be sitting at home doing nothing’.

When we got Enabling Good Lives, she joined the gym with Ngā Mara Ātea, they introduced us to Hip Hop and they go out a lot. She has so many friends now. Darling-Mei has control of her own life, she’s now telling me what she’s going to do.

During Lockdown she went online to Iso (Isolation) – Karaoke and they love her. They’ve invited her back for a festival in September.

The funding bought her the iPad which she used all the time during Lockdown and became a Godsend to her.

Darling-Mei had some wasted years. There should have been a lot more help for her. Life has changed now for her; it’s funny what money can do.

Because she loves music and instruments, she wants to learn the piano.

Darling-Mei does her own thing she is very independent and full of life. We’re now considering looking at a flatting situation for her.

Who would have thought that three years ago or even before Lockdown?” – 17 September 2020

  • This article appeared in Life in a Pandemic, a book about disabled and autistic people in Covid-19 Lockdown, 2020. © Life Unlimited Charitable Trust (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha).

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