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Inspiring speech by Megan Elliott GingerCloud's Co-Founder and Managing Director.

Be inspired to power disability inclusion together!

Click here to watch!

For a long time, there was just us. Our family.

Our family standing on the outside looking in.

Our family watching other families do what we could only dream of.

Our family feeling gut-wrenchingly overwhelmed and lost.

Our family, alone.

Yet the statistics in Australia tells a different story.

Our family is not along.

We are one of more than 350,000 families across Australia who supports a person with Autism or another learning and perceptual disability. This figure does not include people with physical disability.

98% of Australians have heard of Autism or a related cognitive disability.

85% of our community has some connection with a person with a cognitive disability with lifelong, significant impacts.

Yet only 29% of Australians know how to support our young people and our families.

We’re here tonight to change that statistic. 

We’re here to understand how to support young people like our Max and families like ours live the richer, happier, more connected lives we’re all dreaming of.

Imagine our world being a place where we all feel safe and secure, are understood, experienced success and belong.

Where Max, Rosie, Aiden, Nick as well as both Laras, Sarah, Sam, Tom and Josey all had an equal chance to do anything and everything they wanted to do.

Where the Elliotts and the Chestermans and all our families felt connected to a world that was doing its upmost and was at the top of its game to create a safe space for us.

Imagine that world.

A world where we’re all ready, willing and able to rise up and help our young people SHINE. 

That’s our dream – Our GingerCloud Foundation dream.

 A dream where we celebrate milestones no matter how large or small.

A dream where each young person is measured for their contribution, not their cost.

A dream where we all RISE UP together and support each other To SHINE.

For the past 8 years, we’ve started making this hope, this dream real by developing world first programs that always bring us together.

 

Through our Modified Rugby Program, we collaborated with rugby to create a new division so that we could all become embedded in the fabric of our local rugby clubs,

Brothers Rugby Club, our home Club, had faith in this vision, has supported our 2014 Pilot program and has been the home of the MRP ever since.

Thank you, Geoff and everyone from Brothers for your faith in us!

Since 2014, the MRP has grown from 1 coach and 1 Brisbane team at Brothers with 16 participants to now in 2022, we’ll have 32 coaches, 32 teams and 415 participants across 4 divisions in 4 regions throughout Qld and ACT in 2022 – a 29% increase on 2021 participation alone.

Since 2014, our GingerCloud Disability Inclusive Leadership Program, supported by rugby legends and our MRP Ambassadors Nathan Sharpe and Tim Horan AM, has trained more than 385+ young adults to create a generation of future leaders for whom disability has been normalised, driving long term social change.

We could never have started that leadership journey without the support of St. George Foundation, whose grant funded the initial development of our Leadership program and then in later years also supported the expansion of the MRP across SEQ and beyond.

And now St. George Bank is our major partner and share our dream of inclusion through grass roots community engagement 

Thanks so much John and everyone from St. George.

In another world-first, we’re in the final year of development of our Player2PlayerMentor Pathway Program which explicitly trains our young people with disability to become PlayerMentors and future leaders. 

One of our panellists Aiden Willimott is part of this program, and you’ll hear from him later this evening.

As well as PlayerMentor experience, young adults in the Player2PlayerMentor Pathway can also share their personal stories at Expos, speaking events and gala days.

In terms of our emerging Work experience program, our vision is to develop a cutting-edge, online learning system for employers so that they know how to best support young people with disability long term within their workplaces.

So, whilst tonight is about raising much needed funds to help us expand our work to more families in more places experiencing lifelong challenges, tonight is also about nurturing hope.

Hope for us, our future and our families, all working together. 

 

As Andra Day captures in the lyrics of ‘Rise Up’ which you’ll hear later this evening:

All we need is hope and for that we have each other.

So, before we leave tonight, let’s pledge together to create the amazing world that we all deserve to live in.

To continue to change our world, we need hope, a pledge and a daily conversation about how amazing young people like our Max truly are.

Please join me now in making the ‘Rise Up Pledge’ based on Andra Day’s inspirational lyrics.

We’ll rise, we’ll rise like the day

We’ll rise up, we’ll rise unafraid   

We’ll rise a thousand times again

We’ll rise up, high like the waves, 

We’ll rise up, in spite of the ache

We’ll rise up and we’ll do it a thousand times again

For you

 

#poweringdisabilityinclusion#autismawareness#bondsthatwontbreak#disabilityinclusion

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