Best part of my week? It was watching Dylan Alcott win the Most Popular New Talent award at the Logies. The 28-year-old athlete is a star on the rise and gave a truly remarkable speech about the importance of representation.
“This award means a lot to me, because I absolutely hate having a disability. I have been in a wheelchair my whole life and I have hated it. One of the reasons I hated it was because when I turned on the TV, I never saw anybody like me… I wanted to get a job on TV because I love sharing stories, but also to show that people with disabilities can be talented, funny, humorous: just normal people enjoying their lives.
“There are 4.5 million people like me with a disability. Whether it’s in education, employment, going on a date, whatever it is, please give them an opportunity too. Because there are a lot of bloody talented people out there. I promise you they won’t disappoint,” he said.
One local organisation is spearheading this approach to giving everyone a go. Compass Institute supports people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It has many arms and focuses include therapy dogs for kids, running a farm where employees make jams that are sold locally and bridging the gap when high school finishes and youths are searching for their next chapter in life. It basically turns the rulebook on its head about what a disability service can look like and what it can achieve.
Parents of kids with disabilities live in fear: fear their kids will be bullied; fear their kids won’t get a job; fear is imbued in everyday life. Compass is easing a little of that fear.
Compass is getting bigger every year and has just signed a deal with the revamped Big Pineapple site. Compass now supports more than 190 trainees through 80 staff across five centres and 12 social enterprises that include micro-businesses such as a 20-acre farm where employees grow fruit and vegetables that is turned into consumables for sale locally.
So if you want to help it is really easy: if you are not in a position to give a Compass employee a job, you can still support them by such simple acts as buying a jar of jam (the brand is Harvest Kitchen) or ringing Compass to find out about their dozens of other services.
They have a very cool cafe at Nambour as well called Connections Cafe, where staff members have a disability. But this does not solely define them. They are also funny and kind and love their job. It is the ultimate example of service with a smile and the most special cafe I have ever visited. Trust me, it is a cuppa that will nourish your soul and your hard earned dollar will be making a real difference. And for the record, the coffee is really good too!