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An afternoon with Tony

Today, I would like to introduce you to Tony.

Tony is 35 years old and has cerebral palsy. He has had a fascinating journey with Northcott. Tony is one of the smiliest people I have ever encountered, and his positivity is contagious. Tony’s story has come full circle. When he was younger, Tony started attending Northcott to access services to build his independence and grow in confidence. Now, he is a proud Northcott employee and works as a qualified support worker as part of our front line team supporting other people with disability.

Recently Tony welcomed me at our Life Skills program in Parramatta where he is currently working. I wanted to chat to him about his story and learn more about how Northcott’s support has changed his life. Tony first attended Northcott as a school student, accessingour recreational services to participate in new activities and experiences outside his usual school routine. He remembers the first time he walked through our doors. Our staff had various activities planned and Tony couldn’t wait to get involved!

One of the first activities Tony attended was an exhilarating surf day in Wollongong. Tony remembers the excitement of trying something he thought he would never be able to do and feeling his body relaxing in the water. With Northcott, Tony went camping and participated in other activities that made him grow in confidence. He described the freedom he felt when camping and cooking on his own for the first time. These experiences helped him to realise that he could learn everyday skills and do all sorts of things independently. He said he found a new perspective on life and became more open and optimistic.

Being outdoors and developing new skills empowered Tony to become an independent adult. Will you help Northcott to empower people with disability to grow into confident and self-reliant adults?

Activities such as recreational camps or supported social activities, where children and young adults with disability learn essential life skills and develop a sense of independence, are not as readily available as they once used to be.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) usually doesn’t cover this type of experience, despite the benefits they can bring for people with disability. Tony told me he would not be the confident person he is today without those life-changing experiences that Northcott made possible for him.

Attending an inclusive sports carnival, going to the beach with other people with disability, going bowling, learning how to cook, and having art classes; these and many other activities can make a huge difference in the lives of people with disability.

Tony’s passion for giving back to the community shines brightly through his work at Northcott. He enjoys working with the other support workers, taking participants to the local bowling club, playing and making music in Northcott’s music rooms, and gardening with the group, to name just a few activities.

Tony is a valuable Northcott team member and an example to others. “You can try and sometimes fail; that is not a reason to give up, though. I failed in the past, but I continued to persevere and learn so that I could enjoy life to the fullest. I know we are here for a short time; I want to make the most of it and help others do the same.”

At this point in his career, Tony would love to learn more about music and art therapy to be able to provide better support in these types of activities. During some of the music activities with participants, Tony said he saw reactions from people who find it hard to interact with others or are non-verbal, from a smile when a song is played to bobbing heads to follow the rhythm. Music and art create connections and interactions.

Will you help Northcott to create more opportunities for support workers like Tony to learn new skills so they can better support young adults with disability?