Disability inclusion supported through new pilot programs on the Fleurieu

Disability services unite: A number of innovative programs and services for young people living with a disability are being trialled on the Fleurieu.
Disability services unite: A number of innovative programs and services for young people living with a disability are being trialled on the Fleurieu.

In a win for the region, two innovative, new disability programs aimed at young adults are set to be exclusively trialled on the Fleurieu.

Introduced by the YMCA, Leap Connections and Leap Discovery aim to promote and stimulate both social engagement and employment opportunities for young people living with a disability and are accessible through the NDIS.

The programs which are run with the support of councils, schools and disability service providers were discussed on National Disability Day on December 3, when a number of organisations gathered for an expo at the Fleurieu Aquatic Centre (FAC) to highlight currently available services offered to the community.

YMCA project development officer, Christopher Cox said the expo allowed a range of Fleurieu families direct access to relevant information.

"It was about getting various entities together to let the community know what options and services are available, many of which they might have been unaware of previously," he said.

"Growing disability resources for everyone in the Fleurieu region is a key goal and because it takes a community to raise a child, it's important we bring a variety of services together to ensure children have access to the best outcomes."

Leap Connections is one of two innovative programs being trialled by the YMCA exclusively on the Fleurieu and is held at the FAC weekly on Wednesdays from 5-7pm.

Catering primarily for 12-18 year olds, Leap Connections has already been running for over a month and has so far had great success in allowing young people living with disabilities the opportunity to socialise in an active setting.

Leap Connections runs as a social learning program, aiming to build the social capacity of individuals to ensure they are prepared to enter the adult world and the workforce.

"It's really focussed on social learning, how to work in a team, as well as social ques and etiquette," said Mr Cox.

This works hand-in-hand with the YMCA's second pilot program, Leap Discovery, which will run as an employment development program at the FAC and will be launched in line with the new school year in 2020.

Teaming with Mission Australia, schools and disability employment services, YMCA's Leap Discovery takes a pathway approach and will allow final year high school students the opportunity to develop work-related skills such as becoming certified as a lifeguard.

Earning a lifeguard certification provides a variety of skills which are transferable across multiple employment based roles, both within and outside of the YMCA.

At the end of this process, the YMCA will also pair program participants with disability employment providers to promote further access to the workforce.

"Both these programs offer a pathway approach to ensure we are supporting kids from school through to the real world," said Mr Cox.

"Importantly we're building competency in individuals to have more of an autonomous independent life and hopefully opening up their world to a lot of opportunities they might not of otherwise had."

Mr Cox said it was a win for the region to have these programs available to residents on the Fleurieu, who have historically had more difficulty accessing services than those closer to Adelaide.

"We've made some really good connections here so far and we're really excited for what this space can entail."

One issue currently holding back disability services across the region is transport, and it's an issue Mr Cox said the YMCA are actively pursuing.

"We are currently working with local councils on what that [transport services] could look like, potentially through an entrepreneurship model which can then double as an opportunity for local business."

For more information on the YMCA's Leap programs, contact the Leap team via: 8298 7422 or visit the FAC where relevant information and brochures are available.