Festival of Abilities 2018

Festival of Abilities: building social connections for people with disability

Since the successful inaugural event in 2015 and wonderful consecutive festivals since then, Pathfinders Ability Links Festival of Abilities has seen many people attending and participating in different activities, sports, games and displays.

The aim of the festival is to showcase the wide variety of opportunities that are available in Tamworth and surrounding areas for all ages and abilities, allowing people to build social connections around common interests. Many sporting, social and community groups participated during the festival with activities including:

  • Sporting groups – Wheelchair Sports NSW, Blind Sports NSW, Baseball NSW
  • Art and craft groups – cupcake decorating, nail art, hair style demonstrations
  • Music and performing arts, buskers, dancers, Taekwondo demonstrations
  • Special Interest group demonstrations – Vision Australia, Guide Dogs NSW, Ulysses Motorcycle Club rides
  • And much more!

The festival was born from the work Ability Links did with its participants. Pathfinders’ Ability Links program worked closely with people with disability, their families and carers to be supported to fulfil their goals, hopes and dreams. Whether their goal was to participate in sport, education, work, volunteering, or other activities, they remained at the centre of decision making about how they wanted to lead their life. Linkers supported them with their strong local knowledge and work alongside communities.
The Festival of Abilities has been a great way for Pathfinders Ability Links to help showcase the businesses and services available for people to access within the NENW.

The event’s growth since 2015 has been astonishing, and continues to grow from strength to strength every year. A factor in the festival’s success has been its relocation to Bicentennial Park, which has made it more accessible for all people to attend.

Tamworth city council, the local community and surrounding areas have already shown enthusiastic support for the festival, with more than 35 local businesses and organisations registering to host a stall at the event.

And now, every year businesses are asking how they are able to make the region more inclusive. They’re continually opening their doors with volunteering roles and even paid positions to people that traditionally would be overlooked.

A more inclusive approach to business and community also continues to trend across the nation, with twenty-eight of Australia’s top businesses and government agencies benchmarking their inclusion of people with disability. Considering over two million people of working age in Australia have disability, it makes sense to be more inclusive within business practices.

An independent evaluation report, conducted by Ernst & Young, showed that every dollar invested in the regional program generated $3.60 in benefits, translating to more than $42 million in economic benefits and more than $11 million in social benefits.

The report showed that not only does Ability Links NSW and the Pathfinders model provided cost savings that freed up government funds, the program also supported government to achieve disability inclusion policy goals that make our communities better places for us all to live in.

Ability Links NSW has had extensive engagement with communities across regional NSW, engaging over 5,970 community organisations and community individuals just within one year. A wide range of community organisations and individuals have been engaged with providing Ability Links NSW participants with an opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations.

In addition, having non-profits such as Pathfinders in regional areas strengthens local economies and has helped secure more funding to make communities more accessible for people with disabilities. The total value to the communities in regional NSW from Ability links alone is $11.85m.

Pathfinders supports people with disability, their families and carers to live the life they want, as valued members of their community. It does this through connecting people with their local community.

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