Pete Bradley aces work and Outward Bound from his wheelchair

Pete Bradley thought he was happy sitting at home playing computer games, but he credits his stepmother with forcing him to get off his backside – and into a rewarding career.

"I was 18 and out of school. All I wanted to do was play computer games and drink beers with my mates. But my stepmother wasn’t going to let me waste my life, so she encouraged me to do Outward Bound."

If you spend much time with Pete, you realise that most of the credit should be his, as taking part in the physically challenging course was even more daunting for him than for most people.

“I’ve got smaller arms and legs than most people and a bit of a curve in the back. It makes me short and stops me running around as much as the All Blacks. But I don’t see myself as disabled. I’ve got the guts and determination that helps people treat me more normally.”

Achievements at Outward Bound helped Pete realise he had potential

The course was tough, but it gave Pete a new view of his situation. "When we were walking up the mountain, I had to walk up the mountain too. Walking isn’t one of my strong points and we just took our time and plodded up the mountain.

"When I got back I realised that if I can climb a mountain and sail a boat, there’s no reason for me to sit here and play James Bond on the computer – it wasn’t going to progress me any further.”

Workbridge provided practical support

So Pete went to Workbridge, an employment service for people with disabilities, where he was steered toward a training course for call centre operators.

Pete credits the service for helping him get organised, and into a job. "They team you up with a co-ordinator. That was helpful to do my CV. I’m still using Workbridge. They provide me with taxis to get to and from work. If I need any assistance or equipment, I can refer back to them."

The wheelchair is a form of transport, not an excuse to fail

Now, in his job at Christchurch City Council’s call centre, it's Pete who gets the opportunity to encourage others. "I get people that ring me up and go, 'I'm in a wheelchair and I can’t do this.' And I’m like 'Hang on, I’m in a wheelchair too and I still manage to get my wheelie bins out and I live at home independently.'

"Life’s all about having experiences. Just because you’ve got a disability you can’t sit on your laurels and not have those experiences."

Updated 21 Jul 2016