18 Mar Stories that matter – Mark Rushton
At Uniting, we celebrate the fact that life is there to be lived. So, when the NDIS was introduced in NSW back in 2016 we jumped at the opportunity to assist people like paraplegic scuba diver, wheelchair tennis player, corporate speaker and Blowfly Cricket founder Mark Rushton, to streamline the decision-making process and administration of their care, so that they could focus on living their best lives.
By assisting Mark with the evolution of his self-managed NDIS plan, Uniting has helped Mark continue to contribute as a social leader within his local area, while enriching both his own life and those around him via his charitable and community engagement related activities. A key element of this has been his founding and development of the Blowfly Cricket program, which focuses on providing autistic and intellectually disabled children and young adults the opportunity to engage in team-based sport, while developing the social skills and experiences needed in order to extend themselves and enjoy life.
Energy to live
“I get a total of 22 hours a week, unless I get sick and need more and then the hours are increased of course. But to accept someone through your door – a total stranger – and trust them while letting them see you at your absolutely vulnerable and exposed like with no clothes on at times if they’re helping in the shower and all that sort of thing…” Mark utters in calm reflection.
“But with my carers… I anticipate I wouldn’t be able to do 60% of the things that I do if I didn’t have that level of support, because the things that (those) ladies do to help me frees up energy levels so that I can maintain my standard of life and quality of life. So, I’m very, very grateful for it.”
“And through the NDIS and the LAC’s (Local Area Coordinators) it’s just fantastic the (level) of things that I can do with them.”
A love of cooking
By being able to self-manage his own care using his NDIS funding, Mark is also able to engage in two of his other passions daily. This includes activities such as cooking jams and other preservatives, as well as the development of his environmentally-sustainable native garden, which complements the bushland surrounding his house. By being in full control of his service provision, Mark says that he’s able to engage in a level of mindfulness, which greatly enriches his quality of life.
“Any passion you have which distracts you and is a pleasurable activity for you, is a form of mindfulness. That’s because it gets you to slow your breathing down where you got that deep dive form of rhythmic breathing, because you are concentrating and then you’ve got the physical exercise to it too. If you’ve ever tried to make a jam, but there’s a lot of stirring, believe me and a lot of adding these, adding that testing and testing it… It’s a lot of work.”
“But it’s very relaxing. And then at the end, if you make 8 to 12 batches of jam, it’s very, very satisfying. And to think that I then sell them all with 100% of the proceeds going to Blowfly Cricket, it helps make a difference.”
Give me a home among the gum trees
But while making jams for charity might be Mark’s passion indoors, it’s his sustainable native garden which really makes his eyes light up.
“This was a nothing garden type block. And I bought this just to redesign it all into beautiful bush land and a beautiful garden. It’s still a project, which is undergoing change all the time like all gardens do.”
“You know, when you plant something, you’re doing it for future generations, especially if it’s a tree, because you’re not going to say fully mature. So, what I do here is for other people, to other future owners and friends of mine. I have children who come around here, and they just love it, because there’s so many different activities for them to do and to see and different things.”
While gardening may take up a lot of his time though, Mark’s found that Uniting’s Local Area Coordinators and the NDIS have been able to assist him with this pursuit as well, which helps him maintain his quality of life.
“I’ve got a gardener who is employed via the NDIS, which is fantastic. He comes three to five hours every Friday and does a lot of work to help me out.”
“He always says to me: ‘you know I’d come do this for free, because your place is always so relaxing and so pleasant. And you don’t even tell me to do anything.’ He says ‘you’re always asking me: Do you mind doing this? Do you mind doing that?’ Or if you’re out pruning roses, he says he’ll come and do it with me, to learn from what I do. Pruning roses is a huge job in July every year, and so it’s good fun… Yeah… And it sounds very healthy for me”.
For more about Uniting’s programs involving the NDIS and stories about some of our clients, visit our website or contact our NDIS Local Area Coordinators via this link.