Award for Embracing Inclusion

May 26, 2016

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Congratulations to Heather Sayer and Sarah Ward for being awarded  the Robyn Murray Memorial Award for ‘Embracing Inclusiveness’.

Robyn Murray was committed to social justice and worked tirelessly to identify opportunities for those facing challenges in their community. She negotiated with governments and local agencies to ensure people with disabilities who were disconnected to learning and social events had opportunities to participate in community life and learning. The awards which recognise exemplary inclusive practice, were established by the CHAOS (Community House Association of the Outer Eastern Suburbs) Network in her memory.

Sarah and Heather received individual awards for their work with Friday Youth Hangout, an Interchange Outer East Activ8 initiative, which meets in Millgrove every second Friday evening.  Both Sarah and Heather have been responsible for the development and running of the group. Through their input and passion they have grown a welcoming place for youth of all abilities to socialise, have fun and hang out on a fortnightly basis.

In her nomination of Sarah and Heather, Kerry Ditcham of Yarra Valley Community School, described them as being “dedicated to working with the high risk and isolated youth cohort of the Yarra Valley and being well versed in their understanding of the limitations and lack of access to transport, services  and support.”

Kerry wrote “Sarah and Heather passionately work in a complete, holistic and inclusive manner. They work with youth towards educating, supporting and enhancing all lives within and external to the disability sector. Both Sarah and Heather have established themselves to their local community and have powerfully created a youth group which is based on, but not advertised as, an inclusive practice program.”

Both ladies are passionate about creating opportunities for youth, particularly those  of the Valley. By liaising with local organisations and groups they have also produced a number of once off sporting and social events and regular ongoing programs which, while not being ‘disability focussed’ epitomise the true meaning of the word ‘inclusive’. Sarah is also the founder and producer of the local youth theatre company ‘Misfits’ which has considerable success with its many theatrical endeavours.

While Sarah and Heather have received official recognition through the awards, they believe recognition also should be given to Youth Hangout co-worker, Darcey Marchesani and to the many volunteers who assist with running of the group activities.

Congratulations!

by Sandra Leehy

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