Emma Gardiner: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Emma’s devotion enables students to create lasting social change
Thanks to Emma Gardiner Perth high school students are connecting with and establishing the confidence to meaningfully engage and include people living with complex disabilities.
“So many people don’t know where to look or how to act around people with complex disabilities,” says Emma, who facilitates the Nulsen Youth Patron Program.
“One of the highlights of my work is seeing these high school kids embracing people with complex disabilities and saying, ‘they’re just the same as you and me’.”
Emma is employed by Nulsen Disability Services who manage this one-of-a-kind Program, which sees students who take part visit the organisations’ supported-living homes. In turn, Nulsen residents are invited to attend school events such as sports days, arts and music events.
Through their interactions, the students develop a greater understanding of the needs of people living with a disability, also expanding the social networks of all involved and creating long-lasting friendships.
Mum-of-two Emma knew immediately that Nulsen was a good fit for her when she was looking to re-enter the workforce. She says she loves everything the charity stands for.
“Having the courage to support people with challenging needs is important to me,” Emma says.
The organisation was established more than 60 years ago at a time when parents of children with severe disabilities had nowhere to turn. To this day, it continues to support people with complex disabilities and their families and advocate on their behalf.
Emma is “extremely grateful” to have been voted a Westfield Local Hero and feels excited that more people will learn out about the efforts of students in helping raise awareness around disability.
“It means that the community gets to see how important it is that we recognise, accept and support every community member, and nurture them to be the best person they can be.”
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Nulsen Disability Services to be able to create a three-part leadership series which all students in the program will attend. The series explores a contemporary approach to leadership and will include a question and answer panel with successful community business leaders.
“The grant bridged part of the funding gap which has allowed the Nulsen Youth Patron Program to run this year. We begin the 2019 calendar with 36 new students at the start of February.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.