Celebrating inclusion

Celebrating inclusion

The work that the Uniting Local Area Coordination Program does, as a Partner in the Community to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), is monumental. Every day our staff are bringing new levels of choice and control to our customers, and teaching communities that considering the needs of everyone is the just way. We dream of a better future, by taking BOLD steps for inclusion, for all Australians.

When we started working on a primary school inclusion project in early 2018, we envisaged something like a basic colouring-in competition. Students could colour an all-abilities themed image on an entry form, to send us in the hope of winning a prize. This very general plan morphed into the Strength in Disability competition that saw over 230 children create their own inclusive artwork or written piece inspired by our theme of finding strength in disability. The entries from 64 different schools around NSW were creative, moving and inclusive.

Jaeden's winning artwork is a water colour painting of a bird landing with the caption " 'The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you' Be you. Be Strong."

The winning ‘Strength in Disability’ artwork from 10-year-old Jaeden, which was inspired by his pet bird. (Click for larger image.)

We received stories about family members with lived experience of disability, wonderful paintings and drawings of courage, poems that touched a heart string, and powerful insights into kindness.

So how did we get from a colouring-in competition to here? We pushed further. It isn’t difficult to tick the boxes on any number of inclusion initiatives. But the real gold comes when you drive transformation. We believed in the insight of children, researched the motivators for parents, and examined how to work with busy schools. We needed to create space for inclusion.

For any child, high school can be a challenging time. Add social, intellectual and physical differences into the mix and it can seem a melting pot of barriers. But it doesn’t need to be. The children of today are our leaders of the future. Our Strength in Disability competition targeted children in Years 5 and 6 with a clear purpose – prepare to start high school with inclusion in mind.

Our upcoming publication shares with you the art, writing and inspiration from all the finalists of the competition. We named it using the words of 10-year-old Jaeden, who won the major art prize with the beautiful rainbow lorikeet gracing our front cover: “Be you, be strong”.

Stay tuned for updates about the much anticipated release, it’s just around the corner!

  • Marcia
    Posted at 21:55h, 29 March Reply

    Congratulations to Bek for driving this amazing project. Beautiful work!

    • Paul Hemsworth
      Posted at 10:00h, 01 April Reply

      Thanks Marcia,
      We’re proud of our staff and all they do too.
      Kind regards
      The Uniting team.

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