My name is Ashvin. That’s me up the back on the left. I am a Year 11 student and I volunteer with Interaction Services in Sydney’s northwest. Last year I attended a projectABLE workshop run by Interaction.
I chose to attend the workshop because I had little knowledge into what the lives of those with a disability were like. I wanted to try and understand how the clients of Interaction went about their day-to-day business and what challenges they faced. I also wanted to learn how to interact with people with disabilities. This was the only program that I was aware of which allows high school students to gain this sort of valuable information.
From the moment I arrived the staff at Interaction made us feel at home. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
The program itself was extremely effective. For me the most memorable and eye-opening segment was the student-client session. Students were encouraged to ask questions and talk with a person with a disability. This was the point in the program that truly opened students’ eyes. We understood people with disabilities were just like us, regular individuals, who embraced the challenges that they were presented with.
After the workshop I took the opportunity to volunteer with Interaction. I believe that volunteering is one of the few activities that a student can do as a means of having a break from studies whilst giving back to the community.
I volunteer fortnightly on Saturdays from 10am-12noon. I participate in two different sessions; music and arts and craft. In the music session my role is to motivate the clients to get involved; either through dancing or simply holding an instrument and playing along.
The arts and crafts session involves a lot more interaction with clients. Each week a new craft project is presented. Clients are encouraged to work as independently as possible but I’m on hand to help with anything they find difficult. During both sessions I have a chat with the clients and ensure that they have no issues with the activities.
The most rewarding part of this program is not immediately noticeable. It’s the changes you see over a period of time. When I first started there was a woman who was disengaged. Slowly, after four months she started to make a conscientious effort towards completing the activities. In another four months she was communicating enthusiastically with me and other clients. Now she produces beautiful crafts and seemingly enjoys every minute of it.
It is stories like these that make volunteering at Interaction so enjoyable and worthwhile. You can see the positive impact the program has on the clients who attend.
Despite my hectic study schedule I plan to continue volunteering. Volunteering helps me to develop time management skills and balance a variety of activities. It is a privilege to be making a difference in people’s lives.
WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE? START WITH A PROJECT-ABLE WORKSHOP. INTERACTION SERVICES ARE HOSTING WORKSHOPS THROUGHOUT TERM 3.