When he struggled with words, Kayah Guenther danced instead

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(Supplied: Kate Holmes) By

Thea Halpin


December 03, 2016 09:20:08

Kayah Guenther says dance has been a form of communication for him.
He said dancing had improved his self-esteem and facilitated building of friendships.”It helps me to focus. I am proud of myself because I would like to be a good dancer,” he said.”Dance is like a friend.”Guenther’s dance style is confident. Dance helps me become a different man.”Giving people their voice backEmma Bennison, the chief executive of Arts Access Australia, said facilitating participation in artistic pursuits gave people with disabilities a voice in a society that often tried to take it away.”Oftentimes people with disability don’t have a voice — they don’t have a platform for expressing their views,” Ms Bennison said.”They might not be able to physically speak, but also because sometimes society’s low expectations actually limit the opportunities for people to have a voice of their own. (Supplied: Kate Holmes)
“Often families and friends and carers are asked to speak on behalf of people with disability — sometimes that is necessary and appropriate, but there are times where it is really quite devaluing for people not to have a voice.”Myself, as a blind person, will walk into a shop and the shop assistant will speak to the person I am with, or hand them the money — and that is incredibly irritating and disempowering.”She said the arts offered a good “entry point” for people with disabilities to communicate, if they could not speak or communicate verbally.”People are seeing the [art]work first, they are not completely distracted by, or fixated on the impairment, but are rather seeing the work for what it is,” she said.”I think any process that allows people — whether they are people with a disability or not — to express their own ideas and have the ability to create something without interference or censorship is a positive thing.”People with disabilities need to leadAccording to Ms Bennison, there had been an increase in the amount of programs available for disabled people looking to get into the arts; however there was always room for more.She said she believed programs that encouraged people with disabilities to take agency over the artistic process were important. It is more than movement in time to a beat; it expresses power, masculinity and his place in the world.”Dance is a passion for me. Photo:
Kayah Guenther (R) has recently completed a dance residency with professional dancer Gavin Webber. “People sometimes don’t listen to my voice but they listen to my dance,” he said.”I need to think really hard when I speak, but I can move really easy when I dance.”When he was younger, Guenther was bullied for having difficulty speaking. (Supplied: Kate Holmes)
“There is room for opportunities for things which we call ‘disability-led’ so things that are led by people with a disability,” she said.”I think the NDIS creates a fantastic potential for people with disability to have more opportunity to contribute to and participate in the arts — whether that be in specific projects or in arts projects which are ‘mainstream’ projects.”There is always a need for more training opportunities for artists, because we are not just talking about the arts as therapy … but we are also talking about people with disability making a living and becoming economically independent.”It is really important that we have good mentoring pathways and training opportunities and employment opportunities in the arts and cultural sector.”There is still a lot of work to be done, but we have certainly seen some improvements over the past few years.” Now in his twenties he has gained recognition for his talent and danced all over the world.Currently in Chile — where he has been invited to dance at a festival — he said communicating through movement was far easier for him than communicating verbally. Createability: The Battle Twenty-year-old Kayah Guenther explores his strength and masculinity through dance, alongside esteemed choreographer, Gavin Webber. Photo:
Kayah Guenther has been dancing since he was in high school. Kayah Guenther has difficulty communicating verbally, but he has no trouble getting across a powerful message.For several years he has been using dance as a form of expression and communication — one that transcends language and overcomes barriers placed by disability.Guenther said he began dancing because he thought it was something he could learn, and grew to love the medium.”When I am dancing I breathe in and I feel my heart grow full,” he said.”Dancing makes me remember who I am and who I would like to be.”Guenther has been dancing since he was in high school.

Federal police grant a young cancer patient’s wish ‘to blow stuff up’

Australian Federal Police (AFP) have joined forces with the Make-A-Wish foundation to grant an unusual request from a 12-year-old cancer patient, organising a day at a training village so he can “blow stuff up”.Declan, who is in remission from leukaemia, spent the day with the AFP’s Specialist Response Group at its Majura headquarters in Canberra.He was put through his paces in several police scenarios, and given the chance to detonate explosive charges in training exercises.The group’s Sergeant Peter Murphy helped to guide Declan through the ins-and-outs of working with explosives.”We’re the breaching team, so it’s pretty much one of our specialties,” he said.Sergeant Murphy said Declan had a potential future in breaching and demolitions.”He’s got an aptitude,” he said.”I’m not sure what he actually expected, but once he started functioning a couple … he was getting into it.”He was pretty excited about it but I think the family got a bit of a kick out of it too.”Declan travelled to the ACT from near Sydney after Make-A-Wish organised the trip, which also included a meeting at Parliament House with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
(ABC News) Updated

December 01, 2016 20:31:31

Video: Police vision of Declan's detonations.
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Opera Queensland takes to stage with disabled performers

By Allyson Horn


December 01, 2016 16:14:15

Video: Opera performers with disabilities get ready for Orpheus and Eurydice

(ABC News)
Brisbane 4000
Director Clark Crystal (right) and performer Jamie Carrigan rehearsing a scene. (Supplied: Blue Roo Theatre)
The love story has been adapted to provide roles for performers with intellectual and physical disabilities.Ms Gordon-Smith has a starring role as Cupid alongside five Opera Queensland performers. Photo:
Disabled Blue Roo theatre members rehearsed for eight months with Opera Queensland members. “They’ve taught me as much as I’ve taught them,” he said.”I’ve learnt so much about love which is really one of the main themes of this opera and of acceptance, of patience, and a real sense of two groups of people coming together and creating something.”Which is a thrilling thing.” Director Clark Crystal said although the production had its challenges, the end result was a unique audience experience.”They bring themselves onstage, they’re not your standard-trained actor,” he said.”They just love showing off.They have a great time, their personalities are expanded, they feel as if they’re making a contribution, they feel as if they’re valued.” A Queensland singer with Down syndrome says it is a “dream come true” to perform alongside the state’s best operatic voices in a rare collaboration with Opera Queensland.Emma Gordon-Smith is part of a group of disabled amateur performers working with the company to stage a modified version of the classic opera Orpheus and Eurydice. (Supplied: Blue Roo Theatre)
“Allowing those guys to find a different way in which they can use their voice has really made a big difference in a lot of their personal lives and their ability to be able to communicate,” he said.He said it had likewise been a life-changing experience for the professionals. “I just loving being on stage all together,” she said.”When I’m dancing I’m in heaven and I’m really excited about it.”The 25-year-old has been dancing for 12 years, and had some words of wisdom for her less experienced fellow cast members.”I tell them have a deep breath and take a deep smile,” she said.”I just love being a performer, and that’s my biggest dream, to be a performer.”She and her fellow performers hail from the Blue Roo Theatre company, which caters for people with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.Every person is given a role, be it as backstage crew, as a member of the ensemble or performing in the live orchestra. (Supplied: Dylan Evans)
Life-changing experience for the professionalsOpera Queensland’s Justin Barry-Smith said it had taken eight months of rehearsals to get the show ready. Photo:
Emma Gordon-Smith says she is in heaven when she is dancing.

What to say if your child asks ‘what’s the point of maths?’

The Conversation

By Kevin Larkin, Griffith University


December 01, 2016 16:59:40
'Unacceptable decline': Australia crashes in latest education results
TIMSS: Australian schools continue to fall behind
(Supplied: Constructive Mathematics) Photo:
Young people’s negative attitudes towards maths are increasing.
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Next time your child asks what is the point of maths, my answer would be:that maths helps you to understand why things happen the way they do (why presents cost more at Christmas);predict what might happen in the future (using probability to work out how likely it will be that my favourite toy character will appear in a box of cereal); andsolve puzzles to assist the heroine unlock the next level in the latest video game.Kevin Larkin is a lecturer in Mathematics Education at Griffith University.Originally published in The Conversation. This means that for many students, their understanding of mathematics is completing tasks set by a teacher rather than developing their own understanding of angles or volume or capacity.An analogy I use with university students is that mathematics skills can be likened to playing a piano (keys, notes, strings, hammers). It also has long-term economic impacts for productivity and employment opportunities.Teachers could look for opportunities for students to use maths beyond the prescribed daily lesson (for example, location and orientation activities while playing sport, or patterning while learning music, or using perspective in visual arts).Parents could encourage their children to think about and use maths in every-day contexts.For example, when travelling, children can look for patterns in car number plates (digits that are consecutive 3, 4, 5 or prime 2, 5, 7 or square 144). STEM subjects in fashion Thinking of a creative industries career? But knowing the parts of a piano does not make someone Mozart. For example, when navigating, determining likelihood, measuring, estimating, or when listening to the statistics offered by politicians, salespeople or advertisers.Because the focus on maths in schools is on skills, rather than solving authentic problems, young people are discouraged from further study in this area.An overemphasis on the skills of maths (basic number facts, equations) at the expense of actually working as a mathematician (reasoning, problem solving, modelling, using technology) may then further disenfranchise young people and contribute towards the decline in the number of students studying maths in high school or at university.Between 2000-2014, the percentage of students studying Advanced Mathematics fell from 11.9 per cent to 9.6 per cent and Intermediate Mathematics from 25 per cent to 19.1 per cent. They might predict which routes are quickest while using updated data on mobile devices, or determine how much of their favourite TV shows are devoted to advertising.How will maths help me later in life?What is needed in our conversations with young people is a recognition that we use maths every day, perhaps without noticing it. Photo:
A student works on a sensor during the Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science at James Cook University. Infographic:
TIMSS mathematics and science results 1995-2015. Take the science and math test below to see how your knowledge stacks up compared to students in both Australia and Kazakhstan. But most occupations (for example, nurses, pilots, fashion designers, builders, journalists, truck drivers) use maths every day, often solving problems collaboratively.Such skills are not assessed in international tests such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) or Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and never will be due to the narrow nature of these tests.So what is the point of maths? As a parent, or even teacher, you are likely to have been asked the question: “What’s the point of maths?”This is often followed by: “When will I ever use this stuff?” or “How will maths help me later in life?”These questions, not often asked of other school subjects, indicate that for some children, maths is seen as something belonging only to school classrooms.As parents it is not always easy to respond to questions such as these. (ABC North Queensland: Kathleen Calderwood)
When will I ever use this stuff?Maths in schools is largely skills-based — such as learning how to determine internal angles of shapes or using formulas to determine volume or capacity — rather than a study of what mathematics actually is.Mathematics is a study of patterns and a means of representing and describing the world in terms of quantities, shapes and relationships. Broadening the experience of maths beyond the completion of worksheets presents the subject as interesting, relevant and engaging. Likewise, knowing facts, formulas, and rules, while very important, do not make someone a mathematician. This is largely due to the maths being taught as a recipe.If we do A then B then C we get the correct answer to a problem we didn’t pose in the first place — and with little understanding of the ingredients.My research indicates that some eight-year-olds already identify as “not being a maths type of person”, with children using words such as “anger”, “sadness”, “hatred” and “boredom” to describe how they feel about maths. (Supplied: The Conversation)
A common misconception is that only a select handful of occupations use maths. Hopefully the answers provided below provide a way to start talking about maths.The questions young people ask about maths often relate to their personal experience of how they found maths in school, rather than questions about maths per se.Reports suggest that young people’s negative attitudes towards maths are increasing, even as early as primary school. TIMSS: Australian schools fall behind The latest TIMSS report shows that students in Australia make very little — if any — progress in maths from Year 4 to Year 8. Then stick with maths and science, writes Mark Liu. Are you smarter than a fourth grader — from Kazakhstan?
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If we're to catch up with Kazakhstan, we need better principals

Decorate without plastic for Christmas

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Zero-waste living: Could you live without a rubbish bin?
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936 ABC Hobart


Carol Rääbus


December 01, 2016 10:53:53

A paper wreath brings plenty of colour and can be composted when it’s too faded. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
(936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
As well as making decorations from reusable or compostable materials, the Carters avoid waste with their present wrapping.”We use fabric for wrapping rather than paper because we can use them over and over again,” Ms Carter said.”We have some basic plain white cloths and then we decorate those with [coloured fabric].”

The Carters wrap gifts in material which can be used over and over again instead of throwaway colour paper or plastic. Photo:
Scraps of fabric are used to make pompoms and cardboard and wool make colourful decorations that are easy for kids to make. it’s so fun,” 13-year-old Audrey said.Another activity is finding and putting up the Christmas tree.”We have a day that we go and collect a Christmas tree, which is usually a weed tree growing outside of a [forestry] plantation,” Ms Carter said. Photo:
Lauren Carter makes creating the family’s Christmas decorations part of the festive season fun. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
“Most of our decorations we’ve had for quite a few years and we add one or two each year,” Lauren Carter said.”Usually we make them ourselves or we’re given some and they’re generally made of wood or something compostable.”We use a lot of old fabrics and things that we have lying around and make the most of them.”Christmas craft a family traditionMaking Christmas decorations is now a family tradition for the Carters’ three children.They start in November by making a paper advent calendar. Photo:
Each year the Carters make an advent calendar, with each day containing an activity which helps them prepare for Christmas. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
The tree will be decorated with things the children have made and special ornaments from family members and friends.”[Making decorations is] a lovely way to mark how the kids have grown,” Ms Carter said.”You can see their little handprints in things and remember making them together.””It’s really nice to have those memories and talk about them each year.”The decorations include pompoms made from leftover fabric, handmade clay shapes and simple craft items like stitched hearts and stuffed dolls. Christmas is a time for indulgence for many, and also a time of great wastage with throwaway decorations sold in huge numbers each year.The Carter family avoid plastics as much as they can with a zero-waste philosophy to life, and Christmas is no exception. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
One of Audrey’s favourite decorations has no chance of going to waste.”I love doing the gingerbread house,” she said.”Mum will make the gingerbread house and then we’ll get bulk lollies from somewhere and decorate it.”Then it’s usually just left out for people to feast on it as they walk by.”The only thing the Carters have not been able to source yet are plastic-free Christmas lights.”It’s pretty hard to find lights without plastic,” Ms Carter said.”You can get some nice copper wire ones that I think Audrey would like, but we haven’t had lights for a while.” (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
Inside each day of the calendar is an activity for the family to do that day.”One of my favourite activities is going out to see the Christmas lights out the front of people’s houses … Photo:
Decorations are made from material, wood, paper and ceramics and are reused over and over again.

Cycling Without Age movement launches in Australia

666 ABC Canberra


Sophie Kesteven


November 30, 2016 17:51:47

Cycling Without Age helps elderly people experience the sensation of being on a bike once again. (ABC: Sophie Kesteven)
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A global movement helping mature age people ride without limitations and improve social inclusion has launched in Australia. The national launch for Cycling Without Age took place at a senior’s care and lifestyle facility in Canberra on Wednesday and attracted more than 100 people including seniors, ministers, and the Danish ambassador Tom Norring. (ABC: Sophie Kesteven)
While pilots were undergoing their training recently, Jack Walters had the privilege of riding inside a trishaw.Mr Walters recalled, tongue-in-cheek, mentioning to one of the pilots at the time: “I think I need a whip to make this thing go faster.” Despite his need for speed, the 91-year-old thrill seeker said the initiative was a great idea. “None of us, unfortunately, are getting any younger, and to know these facilities and activities are available to keep us active and outdoors, and to enable us to stay well, I think it’s absolutely wonderful,” she said. “It’s such an inspiring program and we’ve taken them through a training session … Cycling Without Age started in Denmark four years ago, encouraging older people to ride on trishaws with the help of a pilot. “I hope it continues and there will be more of them.” Photo:
Jeff Ibbotson says he has had more than 20 locals eager to volunteer and become a pilot. Photo:
Arthyr Thomas, 91, Jack Walters, 91, and Hampton Cooper, 92, say they enjoyed riding in a trishaw. (ABC: Sophie Kesteven)
Cycling Without Age co-founder Dorthe Pedersen said the initiative was the brain child of Ole Kassow, who lived next to an aged care facility in Copenhagen.”He was looking at his elderly neighbours thinking: ‘How will they ever get back on the bike path?'”So he decided to pop across with a rented trishaw, walk into the coffee room, and offer a bike ride out of generosity and neighbourship [sic], and that’s how it all started.”Ms Pedersen said the movement was extremely beneficial to people’s health and was now operating in more than 27 countries. They knew where they were going and they didn’t trip up at all. A trishaw is similar to a bike but differs because it has three wheels instead of two and a seat at the front to carry items or passengers. Volunteers pilot electric trishawsSome people may associate the word pilot with someone who operates an aircraft or a ship; in Cycling Without Age’s case it refers to the person pedalling the trishaw. (ABC: Sophie Kesteven)
Among the pilots to receive their wings was Colleen Laugesen.She works in aged care but also conveniently happens to have a Danish background. “The [pilots] were very good. He played a pivotal role in getting the two trishaws in Canberra with the help of funding from the IRT Foundation.”I thought if Canberra has all these wonderful parks that we can ride our bikes around, it would be great to get some of our senior people out on the bikes and feeling the wind in their hair,” he said. Mr Ibbotson said after putting a call out for volunteer pilots, within three days they had more than 20 people willing to try their hand at the electric-powered trishaws. (ABC: Sophie Kesteven)
Jeff Ibbotson is the vice president of Pedal Power ACT. A bad knee or a sore back is not going to prevent Australia’s ageing population from experiencing the freedom of cycling. Photo:
Dorthe Pedersen launches the movement by cutting the ribbon at IRT Kangara Waters in Canberra. and they will be getting their wings today.”We’ve got some pilot badges to hand out to recognise that they’re ready to get out on the paths.”

Colleen Laugesen says it is important to get mature age people outdoors.

Temporary harvest cafe opens in WA town with no grocery store

ABC Rural

By Tyne Logan


November 30, 2016 14:00:38

The town of Borden sets up a temporary cafe to make sure workers don’t go without their caffeine fix over harvest. (ABC Rural: Tyne Logan)
Borden 6338
A small Western Australian town has set up a volunteer-run pop-up cafe to make sure the hundreds of workers who come through the town over harvest do not go without a meal and a coffee.The cafe was especially important because the town’s only grocery store and cafe closed its doors earlier this year.Borden, in the state’s Great Southern region, is home to one of the state’s largest Cooperative Bulk Handling (CBH) sites.Until June the town had a one-stop shop for groceries and cafe meals, but when that shut its doors it left the town without anywhere to get food or coffee before the local pub opened at 4:00pm.For the town of fewer than 200 people, having the closest coffee and food stop 30kms away was not acceptable.Organised by local Bronwyn Gaze, the community teamed up to create a pop-up cafe, named the “harvest cafe”, in order to give workers a well-earned break over their busiest time of the year.The cafe, which is positioned in the town’s RSL hall, will be open for just six weeks.Ms Gaze said it was especially important for truck drivers and workers who might be working long hours over the harvest period.”At the moment we’re a little bit concerned about the hours that our workers are putting in,” she said.”The trucks travel long distances and there’s a lot of pressure on them to be on time to get back to the paddocks, and it was only this morning that we were thinking it was about time they had a break. “The support for this cafe has been extraordinary and it’s come from all directions.”It’s hard to encapsulate the effect that this has on a community and the fact that it could not have happened without community support.”It was unclear whether or not the original general store would re-open; locals said that was yet to be worked out.But Ms Gaze said there was no ill feeling in the town about the closure of the general store. “Just coming in for a coffee and a chat sometimes breaks the routine of the day and I’m quite conscious of that.”Cafe run largely by volunteersMs Gaze, her daughter and one other employee are the only staff on the payroll for the cafe. The rest of the cafe is run by about 20 different community members who volunteer to bake goods for the store to sell each week.Ms Gaze said having so many people from the community contribute to the project was “quite moving”.”I sort of feel quite emotional about it at times,” she said.

World’s oldest person celebrates 117th birthday

World's oldest man to hold bar mitzvah 100 years later
Emma Morano, the world’s oldest living person, has celebrated her 117th birthday.Ms Morano, born on November 29, 1899, was raised in the Italian city of Vercelli but moved to the northern town of Verbania soon after, where she has lived ever since.The supercentenarian is believed to be the last surviving person in the world born in the 1800s.The 117-year-old followed the same diet for about 90 years of three eggs a day — two raw, one cooked — fresh Italian pasta and a dish of raw meat.These days, though, she limits herself to just a few biscuits, but still swears by two raw eggs daily — a regime she took up soon after World War I when she was diagnosed with anaemia. (AP: Antonio Calanni)
But her physician Dr Carlo Bava has credited Ms Morano’s long life to her genetic make-up, “and nothing else”.Her mother reached the age of 91 and she had several sisters who reached their centenary.Ms Morano took in the festivities for her milestone celebration sitting in an armchair in her one-room apartment, joined by her two elderly nieces, a pair of caregivers and her long-time physician.She happily accepted some gifts, including her favourite cookies, which she ate with some milk.Then she blew out the candles on her cake — not one for every year, but three numerals to show her age, 117 — and quipped, “I hope I don’t have to cut it!”.To the assembled well-wishers, Ms Morano said, “I am happy to turn 117.””Who would have said it?,” her doctor, Dr Carlo Bava, remarked. Photo:
Emma Morano when she was a 43-year-old, and at 18 months. “When you were young everyone used to say you were weak and sick.”She responded: “Yes, yes.”Ms Morano’s life has spanned three centuries, two World Wars and more than 90 Italian governments.Guinness World Records confirmed her as the world’s oldest person on May 16 this year, when she was 116 years and 169 days old.Italy is known for its centenarians — many of whom live on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia — and gerontologists are studying Ms Morano, along with a handful of Italians over 105, to try to figure out their longevity.ABC/Wires
(Reuters: Alessandro Garofalo) Updated

November 30, 2016 13:30:35

Emma Morano is believed to be the last surviving person in the world born in the 1800s.
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Adelaide mum searches for Santa with real beard

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891 ABC Adelaide


November 30, 2016 11:29:06

Real beard vs Christmas fake: An Adelaide mum insisted her twins wanted Santa with real hair. (Flickr: Lady DragonflyCC, ABC: Isabel Dayman)

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Adelaide families foster community spirit with Christmas cheer
An Adelaide mother is delighted to have tracked down via social media a Father Christmas with a real beard, who had delighted her young children each festive season until recently.A reunion has now been planned for this weekend but, ironically, Santa Ian shaved off his beard only a few months ago.”I hadn’t shaved for 10 years, I just wondered what I looked like,” he told 891 ABC Adelaide.Ian explained he had been the Santa at a department store at Elizabeth in the northern suburbs from 2004 until 2014, when the store was advised to source its Santa Claus from an agency instead of hiring one directly.Adelaide mum Kerry took her appeal for a Santa with a real beard to the Play and Go website where local families share information.”Do you know where I can take my twins to a Santa with a real beard? This basically looks like a real beard, it’s indistinguishable, it’s real human hair. I do hope to get to see you and receive their treasured lists.”Kerry said she was delighted her family would get a chance to meet up again with their favourite Santa.”Oh my goodness, I just want to cry, thank you,” she said. They are nine this year and we’ve seen one that used to be at Big W Elizabeth and had photos since they were born,” she wrote.She went on to explain her son last year refused to deal with the replacement Father Christmas who had a fake beard.”My son refused to have his photo taken or give his letter to Santa,” she explained.Santa Ian was tracked down and responded to the online post, offering to meet the woman and her twins at a local carols event this weekend.Despite having shaved off his actual beard, Ian said he had imported one from the United States and hoped it was almost as good.”It came across from America. It’s almost the same length as my real beard was,” he said.”It is so realistic I don’t think your lad will notice, but I cannot promise that.

Profound deafness no obstacle for budding musician

Thirteen-year-old Tanya is not letting profound deafness get in the way of her musical talents.Whether it’s the drums, guitar or keyboard, Tanya says she can use each instrument’s vibrations to work out which note she’s playing.”When I’m playing the keyboard, I put my hand on the speaker. So, instead, I just set a vibrating alarm on my watch.”
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And when it comes to friends that don’t know sign language, Tanya communicates with gestures or by showing them written messages on her laptop.One day, she hopes everyone will be able to understand sign language.However, in the meantime, she says people shouldn’t avoid communicating with someone who is deaf or hearing impaired, even if it might seem a bit daunting.”Don’t be afraid to talk to someone that’s deaf. Photo:
For those that can’t communicate with sign language, Tanya shows them written messages on her laptop. Even if you don’t know sign language, I’ll always try my best to communicate back.”She says she would like everyone to remember one thing: “Just because someone is deaf, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid”. While her disability does pose some challenges in her day-to-day life, Tanya says that in most cases, all it takes is some creative thinking to get around it.”At the end of lunch, I can’t hear the school bell ring. (ABC News: Tony Hill)

How young is too young to learn an instrument? Lower notes vibrate more than the higher ones,” Tanya says.She learns music at Adelaide High School in South Australia. Tanya has been taught a number of songs and has even composed some dance music on her computer. What age should your child start playing an instrument? External Link:

Tanya's dance track
“I feel the vibrations made by the headphones when I hold them in my hand,” she says.Tanya says music has become one of her favourite lessons at school, even though she’d never really considered trying it before.Ever since she was born, Tanya hasn’t been able to hear anything at all.She is considered to be profoundly deaf, the highest level of hearing loss.
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(ABC News: Tony Hill) By Nic Maher for Behind the News


November 30, 2016 12:38:48

Tanya says she can use each instrument’s vibrations to work out which note she’s playing.

Racehorse rehabilitation program making big strides in NSW prison

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(Supplied: Corrective Services NSW)
The correctional centre is also home to six Clydesdales, used for various tasks around the facility’s 516-hectare vegetable and cattle farm where food is grown for more than 12,000 dinners made daily in NSW gaols.”We actually had Jimbo, who’s a 27-year-old Clydesdale, harnessed up today with his offsiders all watching over the fence,” Mr Fittler said.”Here on the correction centre, Jimbo is used to pull the garbage trucks, the carts for all the hay — he used to do a town run as well and pick up mail and goods.”Mr Fittler said given the Hunter Valley’s strong equine industry, St Heliers was an ideal location to develop the thoroughbred rehabilitation program.”It’s something that I think really fits in well, firstly with the heavy horse program here at St Heliers and obviously here in the Hunter with thoroughbred breeding, it goes hand-in-hand.”You’d be amazed the impact they have on the inmates.” Grazing peacefully on pastures just outside Muswellbrook, around 50 retired racehorses have found a new home at St Heliers Correctional Centre in the upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales.They are part of a thoroughbred rehabilitation program, introduced to the facility in partnership with Racing NSW.The initiative was designed to retrain thoroughbreds for new pursuits, including recreational riding, equestrian events, police work and as companion animals, while rehabilitating prison inmates with a range of skills and job prospects.Program has two-way benefitSt Heliers Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler said the program had a two-way benefit.”It just adds another dimension to the rehabilitation of the inmates, but then also obviously contributes back to the horse industry and the animal welfare aspect of it,” he said.”It’s great then to see them re-homed and go on and live happy lives after the track.”They really bring out the compassion and gentleness with the inmates as well.”

The retired race horses are cared for by inmates at St Heliers Correctional Centre in the Hunter Valley. Photo:
Heavy horses are also used at the correctional facility to help with the farming. (ABC News: Mike Pritchard)
The not-for-profit venture was launched in 2011 and its success has led to the program’s gradual expansion from an initial 16 horses.The prisoners are also offered the opportunity to complete relevant TAFE qualifications to become job-ready, in a bid to reduce re-offending rates.”We’ve got about 48 horses here on site at the moment and about 10 inmates involved in their handling and then retraining,” Mr Fittler said.”They’re really excitable animals [but] with that gentle handling from the inmates and the care and attention that’s taken with them, they turn them right around.”It’s been in operation here at St Heliers I guess for the last four years, but it’s something that we’ve sort of reinvigorated in the last little while with Racing NSW.”Strong ties to facility’s heavy horse program As well as directly caring for the horses, the prisoners build and maintain the farm’s facilities, allowing them to acquire the skills necessary to one day potentially gain employment in the thoroughbred racing industry.
(ABC News: Cecilia Connell) ABC Upper Hunter

By Cecilia Connell and Mike Pritchard


November 30, 2016 12:37:34

St Heliers Correctional Centre governor Bill Fittler says the racehorse program has a two-way benefit.

Would you rather donate to charity than pay a parking fine?

(Supplied: Town of Innisfil) Updated

November 30, 2016 11:37:13

The program allows residents to give to charity rather than to the Government.
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Townsville charity prepares for Christmas rush

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Would you rather donate to charity than pay a parking fine?This year residents in Innisfil, just north of Toronto in Canada, are being allowed to do just that as part of the town’s Scrooge the Ticket program.The program runs for three weeks in the lead up to Christmas and invites residents to consider paying their parking fines with a donation to charity of equal or greater value.Donations have to be in the form of children’s toys, non-perishable food items or gift cards and are donated to the local community church’s Christmas Outreach Program.”No one likes to get a parking ticket, but this is a thoughtful way to have our residents give generously to a great cause leading into the holiday season,” Mayor Gord Wauchope said.The average parking infraction in Innisfail attracts a $30 fine.When the program was trialled over 14 days last year, it gathered more than $1,100 worth of goods.On social media, residents have praised the idea as a “fantastic” way to pay it forward.It is not, however, the first of its kind.Similar “toys for tickets” programs run in a handful of other Canadian cities, as well as across the border in the United States.

Meet the Queensland man with 1,000 ‘grandchildren’

ABC Tropical North

By Harriet Tatham


November 30, 2016 10:32:38

Poppy Wallace with Prep students Abby and Lucy. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Poppy Wallace enjoys helping the students with reading. Photo:
Mr Wallace helps out with colouring-in. While most people become grandparents one child at a time, Mackay’s Ross Wallace gained hundreds of grandchildren in a matter of hours.Mr Wallace, more commonly known as Poppy Wallace, was adopted as Whitsunday Anglican Grammar School’s grandfather 15 years ago, as a part of their Prep Poppy Program.”I’d finished work and I happened to be talking to a friend, and I said to her, ‘I’m retired, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t have any grandchildren,” he said.”She said ‘Well, why don’t you come to Whitsunday School and be the poppy there?'”It was not an idea Mr Wallace initially jumped at.”I kept making excuses for the whole year and then in 2002, she rang and said ‘School starts tomorrow and I’m picking you up’ and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “For me it was awesome because my grandfather lives far away, so I’m not very close to him, I don’t get to see him much,” she said.”Poppy Wallace was an awesome step-in grandfather.”

These Year 11 students remember Poppy Wallace reading to them when they were five-year-olds. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Aside from learning, the program also helps to introduce the students to elderly people — something Mr Wallace said children often missed out on.”A lot of them don’t have grandparents for varying reasons, and some of them have grandparents who are a long way away, and I suppose I can fill the role there a little bit,” he said.”I would never be as valuable as their real grandparents, naturally, because they are extremely important and special and I would never pretend to be, but I do get involved sometimes in little things.”I have young people coming to show me where their tooth fell out or where they’ve cut their knee. Photo:
Poppy Wallace is popular in the classroom and the playground. I tie shoelaces and I wipe tears for the pre-schoolers.” A ‘step-in’ grandfatherYear 11 student Brittany Masters has been a ‘grandchild’ of Mr Wallace for more than a decade, and said having a grandfather around was vitally important because it was something she missed out on at home. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Educational benefits from programAside from the intergenerational friendships that have developed, Prep teacher Shirley Wood said having a grandfather in her classroom had help with education outcomes.”It’s a social interaction to start, and it’s a chance for Poppy Wallace to talk about the good old days in our curriculum of history,” Ms Wood said.”Poppy talks about good manners, helping people, all those sorts of things, and the children seem to really respect him.”Ms Wood said it was a scheme she hoped other schools would look to introduce.”I wish more schools would probably do it. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham) It’s hard to get that commitment from people, but well worth it,” she said. (ABC Tropical North: Harriet Tatham)
Young and old build friendshipsThe Prep Poppy Program is designed to bring young and old together — for friendship, guidance and storytelling.”I come into the classroom with the pre-schoolers and become involved with whatever they are doing,” Mr Wallace said.”If they are writing, I assist with the writing; if they are reading, I become involved.”While he is not a teacher, Mr Wallace is also given the opportunity to speak about some of his interests with the five and six-year-olds.”I am given a bit of time to talk to them, and I quite often bring things along and talk about insects, plants, rocks and stones, and fish and animals — all the things of nature,” he said.
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Yellow Ladybugs helps girls with autism connect

666 ABC Canberra


Sophie Kesteven


November 29, 2016 15:36:35

Yellow Ladybugs launched its first event at a trampoline playground in Canberra. (Supplied: Katie Koullas)
Canberra 2600
“She was so happy. “I thought I’d go and talk to [a mother], and she said, ‘Oh Jeannette, my daughter has never had a friend, and look at her now, she’s talking to that girl and they’ve exchanged phone numbers and they are playing together’. it was such a relief.”Ms Kennedy said she was concerned that her daughter’s developmental disability might hold her back from achieving certain things in her life. “They didn’t judge her … (Supplied: Katie Koullas)
Leanne Kennedy was the mother Ms Purkis spoke with that day.Her 11-year-old daughter Sophie was diagnosed with autism in May, and she said she was relieved to connect with such a welcoming and supportive group. We both had a bit of a cry.”

Yellow Ladybugs is a community-based group which helps autistic girls and women connect and form friendships. “Your mind goes to the worst prognosis possible,” she said.”You think she will never be able to go out in the world … She spoke with a number of parents at the event, held at a trampoline playground, who had recently discovered their daughters had autism.”My favourite conversation was a very poignant and teary one. “There were hugs at the end; I’ve never seen her so comfortable and happy,” Ms Kennedy said. but after speaking with Jeanette who’s employed, writes beautifully, speaks well, and is so poised in herself, it’s like — ‘you know what, it’s going to be OK’.”Yellow Ladybugs was established by Melbourne mother Katie Koullas in 2014 after both her daughters were diagnosed with autism. A volunteer-based community group is helping improve the lives of young autistic girls in Canberra through inclusive social meet-ups.Last Sunday, 17 young girls and their parents attended their first Yellow Ladybugs event.The group’s ambassador — Jeanette Purkis, a prominent author and public speaker who was diagnosed with autism two decades ago — said it was important to have a group of this kind available in the region. She said she was pleased other parents in her position in Canberra had a chance to meet.”Canberra is the next big chapter to start [Yellow Ladybugs], and we’ve also had interest from Perth,” she said.”Quite scarily [we’ve also had interest] through America and the United Kingdom, but that’s going to be next year’s goal.”

Off-grid paradise complete with grapes in the bathroom

(936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus) It’s not completely Arctic here,” Dave said about cold nights walking to the outhouse.Outside of the bathroom, the Judges have built a garden nursery on their property.They also have honey bees and a few chooks. It was a no-brainer for us.”In the bathroom they grow figs and a few varieties of grapes which help keep the room shaded in summer.They also have cardamom, aloe vera and a range of succulents — and of course a shower, sink and bath tub.The one thing you will not find in the bathroom is a toilet. That is outside.”It’s only Tasmania. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
“We feel like we’ve created our home and our paradise,” Zoe said.”If we can earn an income from here, that would be great.”

The dam provides water for the nursery as well as a spot for swimming for the family. External Link:

Video of the Judges' bathroom on the 936 ABC Hobart Facebook page
When Dave and his wife Zoe decided to build the house they did not have much money, but they did have a lot of imagination.”We had hands and ideas so we thought let’s put those things together,” Zoe said.The finished product is a unique home that is off the grid, relying on solar power and passive heating and cooling.But perhaps the most interesting room in the house is the bathroom, which doubles as a greenhouse and conservatory. Photo:
Four-year-old Ellie loves the chickens and is proud of her ability to catch and hold them. The Judges’ house in Saltwater River in south-east Tasmania is not like most others.Aside from the 50 or so skinks living in the bathroom, the 21st century-built home boasts 1830s courthouse doors, timber poles that once stood at the Queens Domain and old windows from the Royal Hobart Hospital.”Everything has a story in this house,” Dave Judge told Helen Shield on 936 ABC Hobart. Photo:
The house is covered in solar panels and they also have a battery room to store power. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
“It’s just a nice living space,” Zoe said.”I think conservatories and sunrooms are almost essential in the Tassie climate; they’re such a liveable space year round.”It makes a lot of sense to have it as part of your house design and to grow plants in it.
(936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus) 936 ABC Hobart


Carol Rääbus


November 29, 2016 13:44:36

Dave and Zoe Judge and their daughter Ellie have created their own paradise in Saltwater River.
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