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MCC Disability Program - Community & Friendship

MCC Disability Program – Community & Friendship

Macquarie College Disability Programs in Sydney – After more than 20 years, one college continues to do what they do best: provide community and friendship to people with a disability.

For more than 20 years, Macquarie Community College has run a broad suite of programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. Highly popular with participants across Western Sydney, these active disability programs are fun, welcoming and teach participants important social and life skills.

Heidi and Sarah are two of the 120 students who currently participate in classes ranging from dance and music to cooking and digital literacy. The women live in a group home in Denistone for people with intellectual disabilities run by the Department of Family and Community Services.

Their Tuesday evening digital literacy classes give Heidi and Sarah greater confidence in navigating their way around computers and the internet. They’ve enjoyed discovering YouTube music videos and how to communicate with family via email, which they access with only a small amount of help from the support staff.

“The best part was when the teacher gave us some games on a [USB] stick,” says Heidi, who plays them on her tablet computer after work and classes. Sarah says that her favourite games would have to be the animal ones.

Clifford, from the same group home, is learning how to cook microwave meals in one evening class per week and practises his recipes some Saturdays with the help of a support worker. “He’s also pretty good at cooking roast lamb,” says disability support worker Judy Lacey.

Social inclusion is vitally important for Disability Program clients, who sometimes experience marginalisation in wider society.

“These programs are extremely important. Our guys look forward to connecting with other people. They meet old friends and make new ones, and the things they learn in class give them something to talk to each other and their families about,” say Team Leader Sarwat Rewais and Judy Lacey, who work in shifts to provide 24 hour support at the group home.

Seventy year old Arthur, another group home resident, has enjoyed courses at the College for around 25 years. His favourite classes have always featured music or sport and social interaction. This term he is attending dance lessons with housemate Richard. The connections he has made over the years have produced great friendships, romance, and even a disco dance party in honour of his most recent birthday, hosted by the DJ who taught one of his previous music classes.

“Macquarie has been really helpful in helping us find courses to suit each individual. Everyone has different interests and strengths and the program coordinator knows our guys so well that she calls and lets us know ahead of time which courses are coming up so we can offer this to our guys,” says Sarwat.

Macquarie Community College is committed to social inclusion and so subsidises the evening and disability day programs out of College reserves. CEO Theresa Collignon estimates that the financial support from the College equates to hundreds of scholarships every year.

“Our goal is to make everybody feel welcomed and included while they’re learning skills that will improve their quality of life.”

To find out more, call Macqaurie Community College on 1300 845 888