Ability Dreaming specialises in providing people with a disability in Orange and NSW’s central west with access to one-of-a-kind events, adventures and experiences. However, family, friends, and indeed anyone of any ability is welcome. And so far, Joel, along with his Ability Dreaming General Manager, Drew Kirby, are kicking serious goals.
Ability Dreaming was a finalist in the 2019 Outstanding Business Awards in Orange, having been nominated in five categories including Excellence in Microbusiness; Excellence in Health, Fitness and Wellbeing; An Experienced Leader (35 years +); and Excellence in Tourism and Accommodation.
When asked how it feels to be recognised for his work on Ability Dreaming after only a year in business, Joel beams: “It feels like we are on the right track. We want to be consistent, to constantly deliver that quality of service each year, that is our goal.”
And that’s not the only goal that’s being kicked. One of the many dream trips organised this year included a mystery visit to a rugby league match in Manly, Sydney where clients were able to meet with Manly legend Steven Menzies.
“They were so excited. Our clients got to experience seeing the Manly team warm up right down there with them on the field, and they met with the cheerleaders and mascots and had their photos taken. We even had tickets to the members’ lounge at the Parramatta Eels club for one match.
“We also went to the Lindt Chocolate Factory and to Palm Beach where they film Home and Away. We all got to go into Alf’s Bait Shop – everyone was rapt. It was such a highlight.”
Other dreams have included close encounters with animals at Dubbo Zoo where clients patted reptiles and got close and cuddly with koalas. There have been trips organised to the Disney on Ice Show, to Disability Expos, to the go-karts, to Parramatta Bank West Stadium for the very first match there against the West Tigers, and to the Bathurst 1000, which was a particular highlight.
“Our clients were allowed into the pit area so they were close up to the action. One client got to meet a couple of the drivers. It was amazing! They were speechless. They couldn’t stop talking about it.”
That is exactly the response that Joel and Drew are looking for.
“This is what we’re about!” said Joel. “Giving people opportunities to live life to the best of their ability and live outside their comfort zone. Not many people have these opportunities. But we can provide them. Both for clients and their families.
“We are able to cater for plan-managed and self-managed NDIS participants. In fact, many of our clients are participants in the NDIS. We really appreciate the support the NDIS has been able to give us.”
Joel is also supported by the NDIS, which he says has been invaluable for him to operate his business. An NDIS-funded support worker assists him with everyday living, and also supports him to research business opportunities, attract sponsorship, build a website and get the word out – all difficult things for Joel to do unassisted given his vision impairment.
NDIS funding has also provided Joel with assistive technology which allows him to read and type out letters and emails.
As with any regional small business, Joel and Drew face many challenges. Currently they are surviving on the time and skills of six volunteer staff, and they hope to register for charity status soon. Transport and accessibility in regional Australia has also been a difficult hurdle to overcome.
“One of our biggest issues is finding the right transportation. We’ve had to hire buses, but they’re not even wheelchair accessible, which is embarrassing. We want to be able to offer everyone a unique experience, not just a select few. I know what we’re looking for. We just need a few investors to back our dream. We’re working really hard on that.”
The future is looking bright for Ability Dreaming as it plans an exciting year ahead, including taking a tour over to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for which they are currently seeking sponsorship.
“You don’t want to be 90 years old with regrets. Live right now. That’s what I am doing. And that’s what we are helping others to do also.”
Ability Dreaming has already attracted strong local community and business support for their venture and are keen for more. To help Ability Dreaming make dreams come true, contact Joel at [email protected] – it will make his dream come true too.
Joel’s NDIS supports have helped him: