Jack arrived at Options Disability Support straight out of school almost 4 years ago. With his huge desire to learn and work, along with his NDIS plan, Jack’s confidence and skills have been remarkably transformed.

The Options Cottage and Edible Gardens site at Kariong is where Jack spends most of his time, because he loves to work there. There are a variety of programs and structured supports that run from this venue and Jack takes part in different ones on different days.

Gardens support worker and Horticulturalist Reece has been here from Jack’s day 1 and together they’ve built a relationship that has been positive for both parties.

Reece says that Jack consistently works very hard in the garden, trying anything suggested and putting in 100% effort every time.  Whether that means digging in the garden with a specially modified shovel, feeding the animals, harvesting vegetables or pruning, Jack always jumps in to help. He now has confidence to ‘get on with the job’ and a desire to learn and develop his capabilities further. Which is a contrast to the shy, quiet person that arrived 4 years ago, who kept to himself, choosing to stay in the background and acutely aware of his disability. Now a young man with his own opinions and voice, he has surprised his family and himself by speaking out and succeeding at things none of them thought possible. Like trying tennis for the first time, flipping truck tyres and cooking, all as part of an Options Wellness Weekend.

The safety of the Edible Gardens environment, his relationship with Reece and the other workers, the opportunity to communicate and engage with the other participants and the friendships he’s made have all equated to a surge in determination and skills.  No longer the person that hangs back and avoids conversations, Jack is engaged and focused on what he can do, rather than what he thought he couldn’t.

jack-blog-2And when it comes to allowing him to ‘have a go’, even when the task at hand seems risky or difficult, Reece has learnt from Jack too. He says “Jack has taught me to step back a little, let him struggle, not always jump in to help straight away”.  This is not just about building resilience and problem solving skills it’s about “giving Jack the dignity to try things and fail. To have that choice – like we all do” Reece says. These connections only come with a safe, caring environment that treats everyone as an individual.

As well as working in the gardens, Jack works in the Cottage Print Room, takes part in the IT group and more. His NDIS plan is up and running and he can see that gaining more independence from his parents is a real, achievable goal. Choosing which direction he’d like to move in and what to try next has only been possible with the confidence he’s gained at Options and his NDIS funding.  By developing more living skills like shopping, mastering public transport and cooking, this young man is on his way to a very independent and active future.

Please phone (02) 4340 5155 or email admin@optionsdisabilitysupport.org.au for more information about the Edible Gardens and other supports or about our role in helping you transition to the NDIS.  And don’t forget to follow us on facebook!

(Photo credit: Wendy Smith)