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Streamlining the journey

To call himself a "North Shorian" is one of Cam Calkoen's proudest traits for it is in this environment that he is inspired to make a difference and be the best that he can be. From athletics, through to community service and motivational speaking Cam has locally, nationally and internationally represented our region with pride and built networks into the many subcultures of our North Shore community. He is a monthly contributor to Channel.

For everyday people with disabilities and special needs

Imagine not being able to drive because it appeared there wasn’t a car that met your needs. Imagine having someone who you have never met in a government department choose a van for you just because it was seen as the only option but  in no way reflected what you wanted or who you are as an individual.
Imagine not being able to drive anymore because you can no longer turn the key to start your vehicle or you cannot fit your wheel chair in your vehicle.
Imagine turning 16 and wanting to learn to drive but having to find a car with hand controls that was certified for driver instruction.  Furthermore, imagine having to find a driving instructor who was comfortable to train you while driving this vehicle.
This is just a part of the reality that 1 in 5 New Zealanders who have or will incur disability in their lifetime will experience. This is a reality Toyota is working to eradicate.
Growing up with a disability but living in mainstream society I truly see my difference as a good thing for I’ve been able to dive into the many separate streams of this world. My ambition has created a natural acceptance, and a pursuit in excellence has seen me grab onto the opportunities provided.  It is this mantra that has allowed me to bridge communities that have previously mirrored attitude but been uncomfortable with the uncertainty that it reflects.  Both disability and corporate strive for success and more and more the two are linking to see how together they can eradicate the disabling barriers that society has created.   Apple, Canon and ANZ are a few corporates I know of that have added disability friendly products to their portfolio and now I welcome Toyota NZ and North Shore Toyota to the team.
Each day I feel incredibly lucky to be working in a job where I get to see young people with disabilities set and achieve their dreams.  Ironically goals such as climbing the Sky Tower, swimming the Cook Strait, setting up a music label and performing around the world are more accessible than learning to drive, the experience of buying a car and achieving a lifetime of mobility independence.
For me, one of the most exciting things about being able to drive was being able to walk around a car yard, to find a car that was both practical and cool and have the independence to purchase it myself.  Once I got my car the rest of my life fell into place.  Being completely independent, I could commit to goals and go on to achieve more than I ever thought possible, this now includes being an Ambassador for Toyota New Zealand and their independence enhancing ‘Toyota Mobility’ project.
Launched as a pilot program at North Shore Toyota on 1 December 2011, Toyota Mobility is set to become the first one stop shop for people who want more than just the conventional vehicle the occupational therapist recommended, but rather purchase an “off the shelf” vehicle that fits their lifestyle which is then converted to meet their individual requirements. This conversion could be to provide a place to put their wheelchair, the modification of the driver’s seat to allow easier access or the ignition converted to a ‘push to start’ system.
Without diving too far into what is a “can of worms” the current process for a disabled person to buy a car is complex and frustrating as one has to visit several locations, coordinate both the car purchase, retro-fitment of accessories and then arrange the finance to facilitate the purchase. The desired process is to go to a dealership, assess the needs and wants of the customer (at the yard), match those needs, wants and lifestyle to the vehicle (at the yard), and finance, collect and drive the vehicle from the yard once it’s been personalised for you.
North Shore Toyota and I have set out on this streamlining journey to see more everyday people with disabilities and special needs achieve mobile independence.

For more information contact: Cam Calkoen, Email:, Phone 021 11 26 598.
Ambassador for the YES Disability Resource Centre; Ambassador for the North Harbour Club; Ambassador for 0800WHATSUP; Founder of Carabiner Mentoring; Paul Harris Fellow - Rotary. 



by Cam Calkoen