The fishing day had finally arrived! It was 25 April and the Casino Peer Support Group members had been waiting for this day for well over two months since it was discussed at a peer group meeting. It was time to head off to the beautiful inlets and islands around Yamba on the far north coast.
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Dawn lives in the Taree area and experiences chronic pain as well as severe anxiety outside her home. She also has three children who are all National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, which adds to the stress she experiences in her daily life. After talking to a Linker in her area about the Ability Links program and her own support needs, Dawn decided that she really wanted to re-engage with her local aquatic centre. And with the support of her Linker, that's exactly what she has done!
Mackenzie lives in the Armidale area and due to her medical conditions she has been home schooled, which has led to her becoming increasingly socially isolated. When a Linker first met Mackenzie she noticed the impact her social isolation was having, so she asked Mackenzie a few questions about what she liked to do, including what made her happy. With some encouragement the Linker found out that Mackenzie loved horses.
The Ability Links Mid North Coast team had the honour of working alongside Aunty Bea Ballangarry as the visionary and cultural director for the ‘WOW 2019’ one-day women's event: ‘Guunumba – Bring to Life’, which took place on 9 March at Coffs Harbour Showgrounds. The team was part of the Women of the World (WOW) working group led by Aunty Bea, with the purpose of the day being to provide a safe, inclusive space for women to connect, heal, learn, grow and have fun.
A group of creative Far North Coast Ability Links participants travelled to Bermagui on NSW’s south coast earlier this month with fellow artists from the Lismore region to join in a five-day arts development project as part of Sculpture Bermagui, which ran from 8 to 17 March 2019. The group of 12 artists was supported by Lismore-based post-disability arts company RealArtWorks Inc, one of whose producers is Lismore-based Ability Linker Sunita Bala. Pictured above is a light projection onto the Bermagui headlands, part of the Trail of Light and Sound project created via the creative collaboration.
The Access at a Glance project arrived with a bang across the Central West in February 2019, with Ability Linkers fanning out across the main regional centres to explain the benefits to local businesses of being more inclusive. Pictured above at the Orange launch are (left to right) Zoe Hida (Everywherevenues), Shawn Dwyer (Orange Business Chamber), Margi Garretty (Ability Links), Phil Donato (NSW Local Member), Louise Geaghan (Orange City Council), Noelle (Orange Business Chamber), Sally Thomas (HIPPY Australia), Emily Mitchell (Social Futures) and Bonny Stephens (LiveBetter). At front are Zoe’s daughters.
What began as a conversation in Broken Hill two years ago has ended with more than 100 wheelchair-friendly ramps installed in locations across Far Western NSW – and much of the credit goes to Ability Linker Natasha Bearman, who works with LiveBetter. Natasha is shown here (at left) at the February 2018 project launch with Disability Advocacy NSW's Ross Casey, RDA Far West CEO Michael Williams, Aboriginal Ability Links Linker Nathan Kickett and RDA's Leesa Zupanovich.
Veronica loves sport, nature and making new friends. She also has a hidden superpower in mathematics. However, due to traumatic family circumstances, Veronica and her dad Kurt were forced to move away from their home and friends interstate to the unfamiliar environment of the NSW North Coast. A referral was made to Ability Links and Francis, a Far North Coast Linker, began working with Kurt and Veronica around their goals. Several months down the track and with supportive people who understand her and her capabilities, Veronica is set to thrive.
Look out New York, Paris and Milan – ‘Blind Grit’ is out there and heading your way! Blind Grit is the label and brainchild of Australia’s first legally blind fashion designer, Nikki Hind, and with the help of Ability Linkers at North West Alliance partner Intereach in Albury Wodonga, Nikki (above) has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for her first ‘for sale’ fashion line aimed at the athleisure wear market.
For Ability Links participants Mike Smith and Mathew Daymond, dreams came true on the first weekend in November 2018 when they were able to attend the prestigious Artstate 2018 Bathurst with the support of Ability Links Far North Coast (FNC). The two men are artists with Lismore-based arts company RealArtWorks.Inc. Mike is a musician and songwriter who has been blind since birth, while Mathew is a visual artist and lives with schizophrenia. Both also have an intellectual disability, and both are passionate advocates for their community and its recovery from the devastating floods of March 2017.