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Meet our new Health Promotion Manager


Hi, my name is Karina Ledwos and I am excited to join Coeliac New Zealand as Health Promotion Manager. The role aims to assist in raising awareness of coeliac disease in the wider community with the goal of early diagnosis, access to accurate information and support for those with coeliac disease, and their whanau. This involves helping to develop and share resources to health professionals and service providers to assist with diagnosis; as well as providing up-to-date information and guidance to enable individuals to better manage living with the condition. With a wide range of symptoms that vary across individuals, including some who are asymptomatic, coeliac disease is often referred to as an “invisible” disease. It is estimated that as many as 80% of those with coeliac disease are undiagnosed which highlights the need for increased awareness, testing and early diagnosis.

As a small not-for-profit organization, Coeliac NZ relies on the experience and knowledge of a passionate team of volunteers to support us deliver our goals at a community level. I am excited to work closely with our volunteers who lend their knowledge and experience to raise awareness, empower and support their local communities. Through, for example, running kids clubs for children with coeliac disease, distributing information, hosting member events, lending a listening ear or assisting those newly diagnosed with their grocery shopping, volunteers help support those with coeliac disease by connecting them to information and a local, supportive community. Connecting with other people who understand coeliac disease is so important when it comes to reducing the feelings of being overwhelmed and isolated.

I am passionate about empowering others to improve their mental and physical well-being. My background includes volunteer management, health and wellbeing promotion and social work. I am also a trained mindfulness teacher. My journey with coeliac disease began when one of my children was diagnosed. A gastroenterologist suggested we start by becoming a member of Coeliac NZ, which is where we began. While a coeliac diagnosis initially felt overwhelming, it helped to gain access to accurate information, support, and opportunities to connect to a wider community. While eating gluten-free is now second nature at home, eating outside of the house still comes with its challenges for my family. The organisation's work to promote the Crossed Grain Logo accreditation of gluten-free food by manufacturers and uptake of the Gluten-Free Food Safety Training and Dining Out Programme is inspiring and will help the lives of all people affected by coeliac disease.

I am excited to work with the Coeliac NZ staff and volunteers to improve the quality of life for people with coeliac disease across Aotearoa New Zealand.

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