CATS Inc provides opportunities for young people with disabilities to access a range of group based learning environments and activities. The focus on these specific group based activities is the ongoing development of key skills and abilities in the journey to adulthood, towards greater independence and in promoting and complimenting each individual’s participation in community life. Such programs have the benefit of enhancing individual confidence, self esteem, decision making and choice skills and abilities, and social networks and friendships.
CATS Players Drama Group
CATS holds drama workshops that prepare for performances held in front of an audience of CATS’ workers, family members, community and supporters.
The performance is based on the various key issues effecting young people with disabilities – specifically in developing skills and abilities in various aspects of the Disability Service Standards, and providing a forum in which to make the Disability Service Standards meaningful to them through the use of Drama.
The drama workshops and performances have provided young people with disabilities the required skills to give effective feedback, provide an understanding of how to speak up for themselves and greater ability to participate in their broader community.
Client Feedback Group
The purpose of the group is to enable CATS’ clients to meet and talk about how the services they received could be changed or enhanced to directly meet their needs. This ensures that young people have meaningful participation in planning and decision making at an organisational and individual service delivery level. The clients learn skills in self expression, decision making, group work, and self esteem. The Client Feedback Group facilitates the development of such skills in a safe and supportive environment.
The overall aims of the group are:
- To have meaningful participation and contribution in the planning of activities of CATS
- To empower young people with disabilities to make decisions, develop self esteem, and speak up for themselves
- To support and educate young people with disabilities who access CATS to express their needs, wants, and levels of satisfaction with the services they receive
- To act as a reference group to the organisation through the provision of feedback on organisational performance through the expression of suggestions, concerns and issues
- To empower young people with disabilities to increase and develop their participation and connectedness to their wider community
It is the aim of the group to provide young people with disabilities with training that will enhance individual ability to express needs and wants, evaluate their level of satisfaction with service delivery, and the ability to communicate this to service providers, including those in their broader community life.
The group has undertaken a range of community initiative projects including:
- Recycling cans to raise over $1,000 which has been donated to various charities such as the RSPCA, Ipswich Children’s Hospital, Salvation Army, Lifeline and Meals on Wheels
- Participation in “The Big Cuppa” which raises money and profile for Queensland Cancer Foundation
- Adopting a family at Christmas time and supplying perishable and non-perishable items
- Cooking and making cookie gift bags to give to male Meals on Wheels recipients on Fathers Day
- Buying toys to donate to the Children’s’ Ward of the Ipswich Hospital
Successful outcomes of the Client Feedback Group
- The group is becoming largely self-determining and managing in terms of content, with assistance through group facilitators and support according to individual needs. This support extends to facilitating group processes, facilitating communication, assisting with administrative tasks (e.g. assisting the group secretary to compile agendas and minutes of meetings)
- The group underwent nominations and voting for executive positions in the Client Feedback Group (chairperson, secretary, treasurer), with training about each role
- The responsibility undertaken by the group to choose and organise the services quarterly ‘holiday activities’
- The responsibility undertaken by the group to choose the venue and entertainment for the organisations’ Christmas party
- Observed increase in young peoples’ communication in their broader community activities, a direct link between the training in ‘Speak Up For Yourself’
- The initiative and decision made by the group to undertake the following community projects: recycling project to raise funds for a local community charity group, participation in Clean Up Australia Day, participation in the Big Cuppa, and the gift giving on Fathers Day of Anzac Biscuits to male recipients of Meals on Wheels
CATS Inc approached the Ipswich City Council with a partnership proposal in March 2011 for an Adopt-A-Park Project. A year later the partership model has been embraced by Council and extended to the broader community.The concept of “Adopting a Park” appealed as a worthwhile project for the young people at CATS Inc as it utilises many aspects of personal and skills development for young adults with disabilites, such as camaraderie, team work, and the opportunity to socialise whilst participating in an activity. The “Adopt a Park” concept has the additional aspect of providing the young people with a sense of community contribution and participation. The partnership project identified possibilities of creating and maintaining a garden, utilising skills that many of the young people have acquired in their volunteer work within other community settings e.g. groundsmen work at local Aged Care Facilities and schools.With this idea and concept in mind, contact was made with Councillor Andrew Antoniolli to explore and discuss the possibilities and potential partnerships. Cr Antoniolli was enthused by the idea that matched some of his own development aspirations for the identified park facility. From this interaction the Adopt-A-Park project and ensuing partnership with Council has evolved.The project has since grown from the initial concepts of maintaining the park to including the added aim of creating a place where people come together to enjoy the facilities and participate in a range of activities and socialisation that promotes a sense of local community.
YOUNG PEOPLE FROM CATS HELP OUT TODDLERS WITH DISABILITIES
Ipswich-based not for profit organisation, Community Access and Transition Services Inc (CATS Inc), has established a successful project with its young people who are working with toddlers with disabilities.
The young people have developed ‘sensory stations’ that are set up in a local park on
a regular basis to help the toddlers learn new sounds, skills and sensations. This is also a great opportunity for the parents of the toddlers to see the different skills their children can develop in the future. “This is an exciting program that teaches our young people a wide range of skills. They have to plan their activity, source and build the materials and teach and engage the toddlers in their activity. The toddlers enjoy play-based activities and build new skills and the parents learn new activities they can do at home,”
said Mrs Katrina Johnson Manager of CATS.
“This is also an important program to engage with parents who are learning how to care for their child and manage their individual abilities in a positive way with a positive view of the future,” she added.
Six toddlers have already enrolled in the program and it is proving to be extremely
popular. “We love coming to Toddler Time. The young people from CATS plan fantastic activities and the children have been really enjoying the experience. It has been great to
see how accomplished the young people from CATS are,” said Julie, son of Nicholas.
Toddler Time is for children aged zero to five with an intellectual or physical impairment. The program is facilitated by an Education Queensland qualified Special Education Teacher with co-facilitation provided by a group of young people from CATS. The activities are conducted in rotation and include nursery rhymes, singing, games and lots of fun designed to improve gross and fine motor skills.
Toddler Time is free for eligible participants and there are plenty of rest rooms and shade available at the park.
“Toddler Time aims to provide group play sessions to the large number of parents and
young children in the local area with a disability who cannot, due to availability, attend an appropriate program,” said Mr Aaron Evans, Program Coordinator.
“CATS values the diversity of the Ipswich community and Toddler Time looks beyond the
typical ways of becoming a valued member of the community by providing all children with an authentic sense of belonging,” he added.
CATS Inc assists young people aged 16 to 25 with a range of disabilities including intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities, make the transition from adolescence to adulthood. A
range of support services are provided including TAFE training, volunteer work experience and health and lifestyle courses and programs which enables young people to develop skills, make connections and build interdependent relationships within the community.
We are committed to building community connections and partnerships and are always scoping opportunities of mutual benefit. It is our aim to provide opportunities for young peoples’ personal growth, skills development and friendships through engaging, productive and collaborative ventures.
Watch this space for more information as projects unfold.