Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW’s Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.

 

Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the support of his family and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) there’s no telling how far he can go in the entertainment world.

In Nathan’s own words: “Today Tweed Heads, tomorrow Hollywood!”

Nathan has Down Syndrome and two years ago was also diagnosed with autism, just before being accepted onto the NDIS and getting his First Plan.

Tailored supports

With his NDIS funding and the support of his Local Area Coordinator Monica, who works for Social Futures in Tweed Heads, he’s been able to tailor his supports much more precisely to improve his fitness and help achieve his dreams.

Last year he starred in a short film called ‘The Cover’, made by a local Tweed Heads production company that was entered in the 2018 Focus on Ability Short Film Festival. It didn’t win but earned lots of praise for its powerful message of acceptance.

However, Nathan’s biggest focus is on the ‘Night of Abilities’ showcase for Tweed coast performers with disabilities. Nathan came up with the idea several years ago and his family, led by mum Elaine, decided to help him make it a reality.

The first Night of Abilities took place in 2015 with family friend, TV personality and former Test cricketer Greg Ritchie stepping up as host. Starring Nathan and friends from his day program, the event was a great success and since then the show has gone from strength to strength. Last year it attracted an audience of more than 300 people.

From strength to strength

Now into its fifth year, the family has decided to move Night of Abilities to a bigger venue – Tweed Heads’ Elevation Church – to ensure it can play to an even bigger audience. The show will also feature a broader range of performers with disabilities, drawn from schools across the region.

All funds raised by ticket sales, donations and raffles go towards the Kids In Need Association, which supports young children living with disabilities or with terminal illnesses. Nathan’s carer, Mel, says thousands of dollars have already been raised for the charity over the past four years.

“Nathan, his carers and his family literally go knocking on the doors of businesses right through the area, from the Gold Coast and all the way down to Murwillumbah, asking for donations,” Mel says.

“Some businesses donate money, others donate artworks, dinner vouchers or cakes – one business donated a Harley Davidson ride. The local community has been so generous.”

When the lights go up on 31 August 2019, Nathan and his friends will be ready and waiting to put on the best show yet. While Nathan can’t confirm all the details, he says it will feature plenty of his favourite songs, dancing, even a flash mob.

To find out more, including pictures and videos from previous years’ shows, visit the Night of Abilities Facebook page at facebook.com/pg/NightOfAbilities.

“Today Tweed Heads, tomorrow Hollywood!” 

Nathan Johnston

NDIS Participant

Nathan’s NDIS supports have helped him:

  • Improve his fitness
  • Improve his diet
  • Engage with the community
  • Pursue his creative dreams

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

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Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

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Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

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Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.

 

The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car that collided with a parked truck. Jacqui suffered severe head injuries and after three years in hospital, she emerged with brain damage and the loss of sight in one eye.

“Jacqui had to learn how to speak again and to this day has poor balance, no sense of smell and limited taste,” Don says. “Her right arm is useless and her right leg is very slow.”

Dreams put to one side

Jacqui’s dreams of becoming a hairdresser had to be put aside and instead she found work at a Sydney-based disability enterprise.

Her mother developed Parkinson’s Disease just a few years later and Don took on the role of carer for both of them until his wife’s death 12 years ago. The family moved to the Gold Coast in 1987 and they have lived there ever since.

“Apart from Jacqui’s placement at a local disability enterprise we received no other support to help with her care,” Don says.

“However, one thing the NSW Government did do was let us know that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was coming, so we got an application in early and Jacqui got accepted.”

Jacqui’s pre-planning was done with the assistance of Tweed-based Social Futures Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Cindy, and Jacqui received her First Plan in July 2017.

“Jacqui’s initial plan didn’t have much extra funding for respite care but there was enough in there that at last we could see light at the end of the tunnel,” Don says. “I was 82 at that stage and for the first time I had the sense that there would be ongoing support for Jacqui after I’m gone.”

From bad to worse

In October 2017, Don had a crash and wrote his car off. Then in January 2018 Jacqui had two falls that saw her taken to hospital for a check-up. When Don came to collect her from hospital, she fell again – and this time broke her ankle badly. Since then Jacqui has needed a wheelchair to get around.

The final blow came in June 2018, when a faulty home air conditioner caught fire and the family house burnt down. Jacqui and Don escaped with just the clothes they were wearing and both wound up in hospital.

“The house was insured but we basically lost everything,” Don says. “We’ve been living in temporary accommodation ever since.”

New plan, fresh hope

Luckily Cindy had put in place a review of Jacqui’s plan after her January falls, and the revised plan now provides funding for in-home care seven days a week as well as funding for cleaning and out-of-home activities. Her plan has also funded a new foldable wheelchair, a walking stick and daily adaptive equipment.

“Australian Unity provides the support workers and they’ll be able to keep supporting us when we move back to Sydney to be close to my other daughters, while our house is rebuilt,” Don says.

“Thanks also to the fabulous staff at Social Futures’ Tweed office, who rallied around and bought us a hamper after the fire. It was a wonderful gesture and helped keep our spirits up through a really tough time.”

“Thanks to the fabulous staff at Social Futures’ Tweed office, who rallied around and bought us a hamper after the fire. It was a wonderful gesture and helped keep our spirits up through a really tough time.” (Don)

Don

Jacqui's father

Jacqui’s NDIS supports have helped her:

  • With personal care, seven days a week
  • Domestic assistance
  • Gain more independence outside the home
  • Recover from her recent falls

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

read more

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

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Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature. 

 

“He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says.

But shortly after Jordan returned home with his parents, disaster struck. He experienced two cerebral haemorrhages in quick succession and never properly recovered.

“We suspect that Jordan was sent home too early – we’ll never know for sure but the upshot is that Jordan has been left with cerebral palsy, brain damage, a hearing impairment, and loss of function in both legs and one of his arms,” Maree says.

Doing it tough

Life has been a struggle for Denise and her family, who live in NSW’s central west region. Jordan’s various conditions have required 10 or more visits to Sydney most years for specialist appointments and treatments, including annual splints fitting.

“It was always a juggle trying to find somewhere affordable to stay in Sydney, and we always had to bring Jordan’s older brother Josh along when he was younger,” she says.

“We had some State Government-funded early intervention support before Jordan went to school but once he was at school, we got nothing. We could never afford holidays.”

Despite the many obstacles Jordan made it all the way through school to Year 12 in a supported class, where he made many friends.

“Jordan is very social and he was happy at school. Now that he has received his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) package and is receiving centre-based care through Breakthru People Solutions, it turns out most of his old school buddies are there as well – he just loves it.”

Change for the better

With the support of Social Futures Local Area Coordinator Matt, Jordan’s plan funds four days a week of centre-based activities, as well as one-on-one respite care at home on some weekday evenings. He also attends Zumba on a Thursday evening and social outings on Saturday nights.

“Jordan’s now 25 and really enjoys the big social vibe of his Saturday night group – there’s about 20 of them and they go out for dinner, see live music, go to the speedway, all the things young people of his age love doing. He’s got his own carer but they’re about the same age so it all feels very natural.

“It’s good for me too, because whenever Jordan goes out, so do I. I’d forgotten what freedom felt like.”

Jordan’s NDIS plan has also funded a new wheelchair, and shortly he will have an electric bed that he can self-adjust to help him cope with his chronic reflux. Next up is an assessment for car modifications so that Jordan can get in and out of the family car independently.

“Jordan is so much happier now – we all have space in our lives and the future is looking really positive,” Denise says.

 

“Jordan is so much happier now – we all have space in our lives and the future is looking really positive” (Denise)

Denise

Jordan's mother

Jordan’s NDIS supports have helped him:

  • Engage in community and social activities
  • Get a new wheelchair
  • Exercise
  • Achieve more independence

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

read more

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



Roger steals the show

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan.

Roger is now on his second plan and going from strength to strength. His family couldn’t be happier.

Roger’s parents, John and Esme, care for their 50-year-old son who was born with Down Syndrome and a bowel deformity.

 “Before we were introduced to the NDIS Roger spent all of his time with us. We took him on as many outings as we could but he didn’t want to be active, he was too unwell,” Esme says.

“It was also very draining on us to try and find him activities to do and being older people, we were slowing down.”

Joining the NDIS

Roger, John and Esme were introduced to the NDIS through Gemma Nixon, an occupational therapist at Integrity Therapy Services in Blayney, and then through Social Futures which delivers the NDIS in Western NSW as a Partner in the Community.

Roger’s Local Area Coordinator (LAC), Eliza, helped him access the scheme, gathered information around Roger’s goals, supported the family into the NDIS pathway, explained Roger’s first plan and empowered the family to take control of Roger’s care.

“Eliza was fantastic, very professional and fully explained the program. We could ring at any time to get information. The communication process has been a major plus for us and Eliza was always able to point us in the right direction,” John says.

Making community connections

“The change in Roger is incredible.  It is now easier to get him out of bed on the mornings he has his day program in Bathurst, he’s very excited. He’s made connections in the community. We’ll be walking down the street and everyone will be waving and saying hello to Roger.”

“When Roger gets dropped back home from the day program he doesn’t want to come back inside, he wants to get back in the car and do it all over again,” Esme says.

“Roger has made such an impact on another person at the day program that one day when Roger was unable to attend, his friend picked his picture off the wall and put it on the chair next to him so he wouldn’t miss out.”

Boosting his confidence

As part of the day program, the group was invited to perform at the Bathurst Eisteddfod.

“Roger loves singing and dancing and he went up on that stage so confidently, normally he would be so nervous. It was the confidence that he showed that amazed us, it’s been tremendously boosted because of the NDIS this last six months,” Esme says.

“Even though Roger is very fortunate to have the support of his extended family, it is so good that  he now has the support of a network of other people to care for him and it’s so important for us to get him involved in the community. The NDIS has taken a lot of strain and worry off us for when we won’t be able to look after Roger by ourselves anymore.”

“Thank goodness for the NDIS. We are just so happy.”

John and Esme

Roger's parents

Roger’s NDIS supports have helped him:

  • Spend more time in the community and build meaningful connections
  • Access programs that suit his needs
  • Reduce pressure on his ageing parents and let them choose providers that work for the whole family  
  • Increase his confidence and become more active

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

read more

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



A beautiful career beckons Samantha

A beautiful career beckons Samantha

A CASINO family says the introduction of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has changed their life. Their daughter Samantha has just finished Year 12 and is keen to pursue a career in the beauty and personal care industry.

Samantha is the youngest of seven children. She was born with spina bifida, is paralysed from the waist down and relies on a wheelchair. Samantha also has a mild intellectual disability, but none of this prevented her from participating in mainstream education.

Always a happy child

“She’s always been a happy child,” her father John said. “She’s never been able to walk but when she started school she still wanted shoes, just like everyone else. “So we got some specially made for her and she still has them all these years later.”

John and his wife Gail received some disability support over the years but it never met the family’s needs. “I had to work two jobs and Gail was a full-time carer – we never had a minute to scratch ourselves.”

LAC stepped in

After the NDIS approved Samantha’s application to join the scheme in 2017, Social Futures Local Area Coordinator Gisela helped Samantha develop her first plan

With NDIS funding for one-on-one support, Samantha now has a personal carer who can take her out for social activities and provide respite care if John and Gail want a night out together. The support worker can also accompany her to TAFE for her studies.

Samantha uses some of her NDIS funding to pay for a personal trainer at her local gym and is currently organising some physiotherapy.

John described the benefits as “just fantastic”. He says he often wonders, “why didn’t we have the NDIS years ago?”

New motorised wheelchair ‘life-changing’

“We’ve also used Samantha’s NDIS funding to purchase a new motorised wheelchair.

“The new wheelchair has been life changing for Samantha because she can now raise herself to the same height as other people and do her own shopping at the supermarket.”

Like most young adults, Samantha wants to carve out her own path and live independently.

John admits he and his wife were “a bit nervous” about letting go of their carers’ role but now they’re looking forward to taking the next step with Samantha’s second plan.

“We’re self-managing Sam’s plan and with the progress she’s already made, it just gives us a lot of hope that she’ll be able to look after herself for the rest of her life, long after we’ve gone.”

John

Sam's father

Samantha’s NDIS supports have helped her:

  • Plan for life and career beyond school
  • Become more independent
  • Build her fitness
  • Upgrade to a motorised wheelchair

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

read more

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



Self-management adds up for Veronica

Self-management adds up for Veronica

Max is a 20 year old NDIS participant. He has epilepsy, glaucoma, vision impairment and an intellectual disability, caused by Sturge Weber Syndrome. He lives in Maclean in Northern NSW. His care is shared between his mum Veronica, who self manages his NDIS Plan, and a local family.

Self-managing Max’s NDIS Plan works well

Self-managing a NDIS Plan offers the greatest choice and control, but it may seem too hard for many participants and carers.
Veronica had already managed Max’s funding under the NSW Community Participation Program and decided to manage her son’s first NDIS Plan when it came through in May 2018.

“Setting everything up on the website and putting systems in place took time in the beginning, but now I’ve got everything working and it’s become a very smooth process” she says. “I have to say thanks to Social Futures Local Area Coordinator Susan for her help in getting us to where we are now.”

Max thrives on shared care

Veronica shares Max’s care with a host family. It began one weekend a month under Max’s earlier funding. NDIS funding means Max now shares his time between the two homes and he’s thriving. He doesn’t cope very well in shared accommodation.
“Caring for Max 24 hours a day is exhausting. I wouldn’t have been able to continue to care for him on my own. Max loves his host family. Deanna and Mick have six children of their own as well as grandkids. Max loves them all.”

Max’s host mum Deanna has looked after Max as a carer for 10 years. They have a large space in their home that is perfect for Max.

From care to community

Mick, Max’s host dad is a cricket coach. Max has become part of the cricket community and the club now provides opportunities for other children with disabilities.

Beyond daily care Deanna and Mick provide, NDIS also funds carers to engage Max in activities on most days, including exercise. They also help him to volunteer at a plant nursery and a nursing home. This is improving his communication and work skills.
“Max needs to be kept busy all day or he gets up to mischief,” Veronica says. “Targeted activities throughout the day keep him out of trouble and builds his social, emotional and physical wellbeing.”

Life changing

Veronica says self-managing Max’s NDIS plan is “amazing”.

“We choose who works with him and the activities he does,” she says. “As well as Deanna and Mick, I employ five other carers and pay them Award wages and superannuation. It’s a lot of work but it is worth it.”

Veronica says the NDIS has been “life-changing” for her. She’s just returned from her first two-week holiday in 25 years and can now spend more time with her older daughter in Queensland.

“This has given me back some life and energy. In the long term I will be able to be the mainstay in Max’s life for a LOT longer. This is crucial to his happiness and wellbeing.” (Max’s mum and carer, Veronica)

Participant firstname

NDIS Participant

Max’s NDIS supports have helped him:

  • Boost his social and community participation
  • Learn work and life skills to become more independent
  • Have a life away from home
  • Improve his health and wellbeing through regular exercise

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

Read more participant stories

Nathan’s night of nights

Nathan Johnston is a born performer and artist. Raised and still living with his family in NSW's Tweed Heads region, he has always loved acting, painting and singing.   Since leaving school 10 years ago he’s taken his talent to the next level, and with the...

read more

Jacqui overcomes the odds

Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.   The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car...

read more

Jordan swaps Struggle Street for a social whirl

When Denise gave birth to her son Jordan, the main concern was that he was three months premature.    “He was born early due to an infection but beyond that he was just a normal, beautiful baby boy,” she says. But shortly after Jordan returned home with his...

read more

Roger steals the show

The first words out of Roger’s mouth each morning when he wakes up are ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Thursday’, because he’s hoping it is a day he can go to the Vivability day program that he loves. He can access the program with funding in his National Disability Insurance Scheme...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required



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