Independence For Those Who Need It

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Giving people the independence to be who they want to be
Photo: Intellectual Disability

Benjamin Hansen – @ben_hansen

A disability community organization has begun assisting Boroondara Council Meals on Wheels, in an attempt to get those with intellectual disabilities more involved in the community.

Previously, many have thought those with intellectual disabilities would remain reliant on others, but Burke and Beyond, a small community organization from Blackburn, the east Melbourne suburb is changing that perception.

Burke and Beyond’s goal is to involve people who have intellectual disabilities in volunteer work, conferring a sense of independence while helping develop their social skills.

CEO of Burke and Beyond, Bruno Cyr, said that the people involved with his organization “enjoy their time and often go for coffee afterwards with the people who they volunteered with.

“It’s all about getting these guys involved in the society. They build skills, develop manners, and feel proud about doing something for the community.”

The ever-expanding organization has been running for 20 years and isn’t planning on slowing down, starting in Blackburn and spreading to the Boroondara area.

When asked about the placement, Mr Cyr said, “We’ve had people who have been placed in volunteer work for months and some, even years. It’s something that they all enjoy.”

Psychologist Louise Vernieux, also agrees with Mr Cyr, “Like any of us, people with intellectual disabilities have a greater sense of worth, better self esteem, and a more positive mood when they are contributing to society by engaging in meaningful work.

“Those who are recipients of their volunteer work also benefit from seeing what people with intellectual disabilities are capable of, and this helps to break down stereotypes.”

Mrs Vernieux also said that designating volunteers based on their abilities would ensure that everyone had a positive.

“Learning of new skills can be arduous for someone with a poor memory, or solving a problem may be too tricky for someone with poor reasoning and judgment,” she said.

Boroondara council authorities would not agree to an interview but a spokesperson said, “[Burke and Beyond] provides great volunteers for this service, and council is very grateful to them for this contribution.”

If you want to get involved with Burke and Beyond, you can send an email via its website,burkeandbeyond.org.au.

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