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Belinda Tabbaa: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Super-volunteer helps families break autism isolation

Autism Community Network
Inspirational. Dedicated. Caring

Belinda Tabbaa is a super-volunteer for children with autism and their families, giving up hours of her time so others can thrive.

As a volunteer coordinator with the Autism Community Network, Belinda oversees programs across western Sydney for children with autism and their parents.

She is appreciated and respected by the many families that rely on the activities she puts on to help break the isolation they would otherwise experience.

With a child on the autism spectrum of her own, she runs tailored cooking classes, bowling days for the kids and a regular support network for parents and carers.

“Teaching life skills to kids with autism is wonderful,” Belinda says.

She has also personally benefited from the network, which provided her with much-needed information and support after her son’s diagnosis.

Belinda says it is a great honour to have been voted a Westfield Local Hero, admitting that she had to dry her eyes after spotting her photo around Parramatta.

“It was lovely to have people coming up and congratulating me, and it was funny to have my friends and family taking selfies with my photos and sending them to me,” she says.

The mother of three works at her family business during the day but she describes her volunteer role as the most rewarding job she has ever had.

“Most families find it hard to find appropriate programs for their kids elsewhere,” she says.

“And thanks to funding from the Autism Community Network, they can join these activities free of charge in a nice family environment where no one is judged by anyone.”

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Autism Community Network is using its grant to fund a wellness program for carers and training and support for volunteers.

“The grant will help us continue and expand our existing programs, but the impact from the exposure is just as important for raising awareness of autism,” Belinda says.

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __