Best part of my week? It was watching Dylan Alcott win the Most Popular New Talent award at the Logies.

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Best part of my week? It was watching Dylan Alcott win the Most Popular New Talent award at the Logies.

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 wheel chair 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. When I did see someone like me, it was a road safety ad where someone drink drives has a car accident and the next scene is someone like me whose ‘life is over’. I was like that’s not my life. 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.” Dylan is not alone.

“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. We are blessed to have dozens of wonderful charities on the Coast but for my money Compass Institute is one of the best. It supports people with physical and intellectual disabilities. It has many arms and focuses including 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 every day life.

Compass is easing a little of that fear. David Dangerfield (cool name, hey?) founded and still heads Compass and is the biggest advocate of giving everyone a go. “Every day we go to work and we face challenges at work and we go home and we feel good and we tell people about our day and we feel good. It is just the same for the people we help. They have purpose,” David said. Compass is getting bigger every year and has just signed a deal with the revamped Big Pineapple site. Watch this space. Compass now supports over 190 trainees through 80 staff across 5 centres and 12 social enterprises that include micro-businesses such as 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 café 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 café 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!

– Sami xx

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