Since the successful inaugural event in 2015 and wonderful consecutive festivals since then, Pathfinders Ability Links Festival of Abilities has returned for 2018. With over 2000 people attending and participating in many activities, sports, games and displays over the past three years, 2018 will be bigger and better than ever!
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 will participate during the day with activities including:
The festival was born from the work Ability Links does with its participants. Pathfinders’ Ability Links program is located in the New England and North West of NSW. Linkers work closely with people with disability, their families and carers to be supported to fulfil their goals, hopes and dreams. Whether their goal is to participate in sport, education, work, volunteering, or other activities, they remain at the centre of decision making about how they want to lead their life. Linkers have strong local knowledge and work alongside communities, supporting them to be welcoming and inclusive.
The Festival of Abilities is 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 this year’s 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.
This year saw further good news for inclusivity in our region when Pathfinders welcomed the NSW Government decision to continue funding the Ability Links NSW program through to June 2019.
A recent independent evaluation report, conducted by Ernst & Young, shows that every dollar invested in the regional program generates $3.60 in benefits, translating to more than $42 million in economic benefits and more than $11 million in social benefits.
The report shows that not only does Ability Links NSW and the Pathfinders model provide cost savings that free up government funds, the program also supports 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 2017. A wide range of community organisations and individuals have been engaged with providing current and future Ability Links NSW participants with an opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations.
In addition, having non-profits such as Pathfinders Ability Links 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 Ability Links NSW supports people with a disability, their families and carers to live the life they want, as valued members of their community. It does this through linking people with their local community.
The Festival of Abilities will be held on Saturday, 18th August at Bicentennial Park Tamworth from 10am – 2pm. This community event is a celebration of all abilities and encourages inclusion for everyone whatever their age or ability. Entertainment, arts and crafts as well as many sporting events are just some of the things on offer. This event is open to everyone and entry is free.