It was one of his tougher deployments, but Corporal Donny Taynton didn’t mind going the extra mile to make Managed Isolation special for one young guest.
Corporal Taynton, from 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion in Burnham, was working at the Christchurch Managed Isolation Facility (MIF) in July last year.
He was accompanying one family during their exercise sessions and talking to the parents whose boy had special needs, and they mentioned he communicated with the Makaton sign language.
Makaton is a communication programme that uses signs together with speech and symbols to enable people to communicate.
Corporal Taynton decided to learn some simple signs.
“I thought the least I could learn was to say ‘gidday’ and make them feel somebody in the organisation cares about them. It was kind of special,” he said.
“Just being stuck in a hotel in strange circumstances is difficult for anybody, let alone a child with special needs.
“It was worth it for the smile on his face, building rapport and having a positive influence on his life.”
The family told him they were delighted with how he had connected with their son.
“They were thrilled someone had made the effort to learn basic communication.”
Corporal Taynton left the MIF before the family did and they went their separate ways.
He has since left the Regular Force and while still a member of the Active Reserves is now studying theology and doing a church internship while also running an electrical business.
Corporal Taynton doesn’t imagine he’ll get another chance to use the language, but it would be “pretty cool” if he does.
“It was designed to be simple to learn and it’d be great to say gidday to the boy again.”
Corporal Taynton was awarded a citation from his unit for going above and beyond what was required.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Jason Segal said the family thoroughly appreciated what Corporal Taynton had done.
“Many of our guests were back in New Zealand for heart-breaking reasons. His empathy towards all guests was exceptional. He knew guests by name and personal circumstance for their return,” WO2 Segal said.
“He gained experience dealing with guests from very different backgrounds. It was obvious he had never dealt with anything like this before, but his resilience was key.
“His approach to the task ensured guests were comfortable, morale was maintained which in turn reduced the chance of problems.”