All Abilities Festival reunites locals living with disability
After two cautious years, Community Living Australia has brought together 60 of its clients in Murray Bridge.
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For Sophie Pinkerton and Kimmy Gardner, the past two years have been lonely.
Both women live with disability, putting them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19 and – by extension – forcing many of the activities they would usually get involved with to shut down.
So Friday was something of a coming-out party for both of them, as more than 100 people gathered for a Community Living Australia sports day at Murray Bridge Showground.
Dozens of the organisation’s clients danced, played walking soccer, rode modified bikes, shot hoops and shared good times together for what was termed the All Abilities Festival.
Organisers hope to expand it into a day for all locals living with disability in years to come, rather than limiting participant numbers as they did at this year’s event.
But Ms Pinkerton and Ms Gardner were just happy to get out and about again.
“(I enjoy) just being with friends and doing exercise,” Ms Pinkerton said.
“It’s good to come out and socialise with other people that we haven’t got to see before.”
Both wore T-shirts with the slogan “defend our NDIS” in the face of budget cuts which have reduced the level of support they receive each week.
“People who can’t work, like us, should get more money from the government,” Ms Gardner said.
Transport was particularly difficult, she said – she could not afford taxi rides, so the handful of buses running to and from her home town of Strathalbyn each day were her only option for getting about.
On this occasion, CLA buses brought clients from as far away as the Fleurieu, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island for the day.
They even got to meet CLA’s new patron: state Governor Frances Adamson.
Her Excellency said she looked forward to getting to know some of the organisation’s clients, and to seeing some of the work it did.
“We’ve got to try and create opportunities for all members of our community,” she said.
“I’ve long been a really strong supporter of diversity in all its forms.
“Members of this (disability) community have got a great deal to offer and to teach the rest of us about living.”
More information about the Defend Our NDIS campaign: everyaustraliancounts.com.au.
Disclosure: The author enjoyed lunch at the event courtesy of Community Living Australia.