Leading the way

EARLIER this month, 25-year-old Josh Ferenbach from Access Inc, which caters to Jewish people with disabilities, took it upon himself to arrange a football training day with AJAX Football Club under Access’s leadership program.

The initiative encourages participants to take responsibility for the organisation’s schedule for a day.

After a month spent making arrangements and putting together a football theory session for his friends, Ferenbach said he was pleased to have developed some new skills.

“I’m very good at footy and I like footy … I really enjoyed doing this because it made me more comfortable to do it on my own,” he said.

For project manager Louisa Gibson, the program is a step in the right direction toward Access’s aim of integrating people with disability into the Jewish and wider communities.

“What I see our organisation doing and what we need to do as a society is to challenge that concept of what’s ‘normal’, and include these people as being not separate from but part of our community,” she said.

“Particularly in very traditional settings, which Access is not, you’re told what to do and someone’s organised it for you … for some of our participants, making a phone call to organise something is a huge challenge,” said Gibson, explaining how participants were taught to use Facebook and email to overcome communication challenges and were required to report back on their activities the following week.

Facilitator Elyss Mccleary said the program gave members of the Jewish not-for-profit confidence.

“Each time you do a leadership day it brings in so many different skills.”

Projects arranged by other participants include a Bollywood day, tour of the MCG and movie excursion, but Gibson said as an independent organisation, Access was always pressed for funding.


For more information or to donate to Access Inc. visit www.accessinc.org.au or call 0411 596 750.