Transcript of the video:

Welcome to the September Cocoon Blog. I’m Paralympian Christie Dawes and before we introduce our next guest, we have a little bit of housekeeping to do.

You all remember last month that we had Matt Hansson. He is Cocoon’s Community Engagement Manager. Matt was talking about how he was on his way to the National Pickleball Championship, and I did ask him to give us an update on how he went.

Well, I’m so embarrassed because my results in Berlin were not quite as good. He got a gold in the para doubles, 2 silver in the para singles and the hybrid and a bronze in the mainstream doubles event.

So Matt, huge congratulations. That’s a massive effort. Hopefully, you can better at next year and go for four gold instead of just one.

As I said, I competed in the Berlin Marathon a couple of weeks ago. I came in 11th place, but I was more concerned about my time as I needed a qualifier for the Paris Paralympics in

2024 and my goal was to do a sub 1:45 and I actually did one hour 44 minutes and 33 seconds.

Well Done.

So that was very exciting. So I couldn’t have hoped for a better start for my marathon season. And I

have. I’m leaving tomorrow to go to South Africa for the South African Marathon and I will let you know in next month’s blog how I got on with that.

Now this month we are talking to Nikola Zeeuwen. She’s the Project Manager for Cocoon Adventures. Thank you for your time. Welcome.

Thank you. Christie, thanks for having me on.

No worries. Listen, Cocoon Adventures. What is it?

Well, first of all, congratulations in your performance in Berlin. That’s really exciting. Thank

you. And second of all, yes, so I’m the new programme manager for Cocoon Adventures, which is a holiday programme that will be providing supported and accessible holidays for people living

with disabilities. We’re going to be providing both international and national tourism,

accessible tourism for people of all abilities. OK, so who’s eligible?

Everyone. There’s no eligibility criteria at all.

OK. And it’s NDIS approved?

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. So we work with people that are having NDIS plan. We also work with people that don’t have an NDIS plan. You know, whether they fund a portion of the holiday through their NDIS plan or not is entirely dependent on the individual and their plan and their goals and their,

their financial situation.

And what is the need for Cocoon Adventures? What are the struggles that people with disabilities have or some of the hurdles that they face when travelling.

I think that a lot of people who have maybe tried to book their own holiday and tried to book, for example, go stay in a hotel that has an accessible room. They might get there and see that that accessible room isn’t quite as accessible as maybe the the brochure claimed it was. There might be some challenges that weren’t necessarily understood or anticipated by the hotel themselves. To no fault of their own, but the specs might not fit every person, because as we know, disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and people who live with disability have different needs.

Everyone is unique and there might be something simple, for example, like the door to the hotel room opens the wrong way or the doorframe isn’t wide enough for certain power wheelchairs that are a little bit bigger than your standard manual wheelchair. Little things like that. There might be a little bit to get into the shower or a little angle that creates a barrier for people.

Something that I’ve noticed that’s really common is, you know, people with disability. Sometimes if say, you’ve had a stroke, you might have a strong side of your body and a side that maybe has some limitations in terms of movement and strength. So for people like that, it really matters what side of the bathroom or what side of the toilet the grab rail is placed on, and you can’t get that kind of information of a website necessarily.

Sometimes when they describe the room specs or the configuration of the room or the bathroom, it might be a little bit misleading. And then when you get there and you realise that you actually needed the grab rails to be in a different place for you to be able to do your own personal care, that then does create a huge barrier for people.

And do you find that when people get to their destinations and they have these barriers, do you find that it often puts them off traveling, and they tend to stay at home more?

Yeah, absolutely. So people probably start to lose faith in the idea of going on a holiday, and that’s where we’ve come in to fill that gap, I suppose, and help people regain their faith in the belief, the self-belief that they can travel if they want to, and they just probably need a little bit of extra help in setting up the holiday.

What we tend to do is we have certain hotels and destinations that we’re really comfortable with. We know certain hotel chains that we deal with. We’ve had good experiences and we’ve basically developed like a preferred list based on that. We’ve had other hotels that haven’t been as communicated with us or haven’t been as good at providing the information that we need to help people get over those barriers.

And we try to go back and educate them and work with them because we’re all learning, right? No one’s perfect. There is no silver bullet in this situation where all learning as we go, and if we face challenges, we just try to overcome those challenges as best we can. Yeah, well, it sounds like you really have the participant needs at heart, and you’re really doing what is best for them to give them the best trip and the time of their lives.”

Nickola, thanks so much for joining us today. Really appreciate your time. And if you guys out there would like more information on Cocoon Adventures, head to their website at to find out more. That is our September blog. We’ll see you next month.

Thank you.

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Take care of yourselves & each other
Christie Dawes