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Katoomba and Springwood Hangout

30th May 2016

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A new service in Katoomba and Springwood where young people with disabilities
can socialise, is creating a sense of belonging for many kids who have struggled
at times to make friends.

Katoomba-based disability service provider Kirinari Community Services and Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) have teamed up to provide a weekly hang out in Katoomba and Springwood for young people.

Held on Mondays from 4pm-6.30pm at MYST’s Katoomba base for 18-25 year olds and on Tuesdays from 4pm-6pm for 12-17 year olds at MYST’s Springwood base, it’s an opportunity for young people to make new friends, socialise and ask advice of the group’s co-ordinators.

“We might talk about planning for what they want out of life. Have group discussions about their likes and dislikes,” said Kirinari support worker Pat Blacker.

He’s often pulled aside and quietly asked for relationship advice. And love has developed at the hangout space. Since the Katoomba group started in October last year, two of its members who met at the group have recently moved in together.

Kirinari lifestyle manager Daniel Sepetauc said it was great to see friendships developing in the group.

“They will ring each other up on weekends and have coffee,” he said.

“For mums and dads it’s a place where their kids can be safe and meet new kids.”

Mr Blacker said this type of space for young people with disabilities was really lacking in the Mountains.

“They might have triggers that set them off. But in an environment that they feel safe, that’s where people come out of themselves and can be themselves,” he said.

Rod Griffin drops in regularly on a Monday afternoon. “I love it here, it’s a home away from home,” he said.

Another regular is Jack Stewart. “I like the food and hanging out with crazy, cool people,” he said.

MYST disability programs co-ordinator Sue Campbell-Ross said young people were welcome to drop in.

“We don’t do organised activities. It’s playing pool, sitting and chatting and playing games. They’re just coming to hang,” she said. “The thing is for kids to have a safe space to socialise and be proper teenagers.”

The Katoomba group also has regular visits from Don Bone from Afternoonified, who brings games to play. The Springwood group began in May. As well as hanging out, youth can play the game Minecraft. 

For details contact Daniel Sepetauc on 0447 891 274 or Sue Campbell-Ross on 0447 014 142.