On-Focus carer Helen Lowndes with Tanya Burgess of Lismore at the Festival of Ability.
On-Focus carer Helen Lowndes with Tanya Burgess of Lismore at the Festival of Ability. Doug Eaton

Full of ability to have fun

TANYA Burgess loves to go out, meet up with friends and listen to music.

So yesterday was a fun day for the young Lismore woman who was taken by her carer Helen Lowndes to the third annual Festival of Ability.

"Tanya also loves to cook," Ms Lowndes, from the On-Focus service at Lismore told The Northern Star.

"She's even produced her own recipe book, with symbols as well as words for non-readers."

On-Focus is just one of dozens of service providers in the district who give help to people with intellectual or physical disabilities.

Many agencies had stalls at yesterday's festival and had brought along their clients and carers for the day.

All agreed that it was a great opportunity for people associated with one agency to catch up with people from other agencies with whom they rarely are able to socialise.

"Don't disMYability" was the slogan on T-shirts worn by many who were there - and it seemed to be the theme of the day, with folk with disabilities grooving to the music, playing 10-pin bowling or other games set up by the Department of Sport and Recreation, visiting the many stalls set up by disability service providers, or even getting their faces painted.

This year the festival was held at the Casino RV Park.

It moves each year between towns in the Lismore, Richmond Valley, Tweed, Byron and Ballina council areas.

Each council has an access committee which contributes to funding the festival.

Organiser Lee Clark, regional manager of Spinal Cord Injury Australia, told The Northern Star it was important to give people with disabilities the opportunity to have a free, fun outing.

"They love to catch up with people they may have met socially, but whom they may not see that often," Ms Clark said.

"We're running a few competitions - the prize for the photo competition is a great digital camera.

"Some of the folks who are here pounded the pavements of their CBDs, asking retailers to donate prizes. We're so grateful for the many prizes that have been given for the day."

"It inspires me to see how these people all come together and have such a good time," she said.



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