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 MEDIA RELEASE

 May 31, 2019      For immediate release

World first experience for kids with disabilities launches in Lismore.

LISMORE.

Children and young people with disabilities can now experience one of life’s quintessential experiences – a sleepover at a friend’s place – thanks to local Goonellabah service “Just Like Home” which opened this week. Local Access and Inclusion Practitioner Angela Mathew has opened her home to young people to share an experience they may never have had, and it’s a world first.

Angela’s home is the first in the world to offer a completely accessible space for young people to stay in a home with another family as part of their care, support and growth.

“The idea began with my 12 year old son, Ashton. A night at home with our family is fun - making music, kitchen dance parties, gardening, watching movies - but Ashton’s missed out on the slumber party and sleepover experience with his friends due to housing accessibility. And I thought, there must be lots of young people out there with disability also missing out and who’d like to join in a typical sleepover at our place” said Angela.   

Her home is completely wheelchair accessible in order to accommodate her son Ashton who uses a wheelchair, and now the downstairs granny flat is set up to let children and young people with a variety of accessibility and support needs experience something most families take for granted.

“It’s really important that young people get to experience a variety of families as they grow up. It helps them learn so many skills we take for granted, as well as helps them appreciate what they already have. We’re committed to providing kids and young people with real experiences of family life, all the exciting things like blanket forts and movies, but also including the boring bits like chores too,” Angela said.

“This is a really innovative model of support, centring the young person but without the cold and clinical realities of placing them in a ‘respite’ situation. It’s about fostering a genuine exchange of human connection, not just providing a place to sleep, but a place to play, have fun and be real. The moments you can’t schedule or write into a support plan, those are the golden ones, and that’s why we do it.”

Just Like Home is a completely disability accessible overnight accommodation service, specifically for children and young people living in or visiting the Rainbow Region. It can be accessed via NDIS funding or out-of-pocket payments. It is available to book from May 31.

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Contact information:
Angela Mathew
0447 54 34 34

angela.mathew@netspace.net.au

Photo and video opportunities, as well as radio/recorded audio interview are available by request.

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Article in Northern Star, June 20, 2019

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A Goonellabah mother has opened her heart and home to disabled youth and children by launching a new service that allows them to experience something they may not have had, a sleepover.

Thanks to Angela Mathew’s new Goonellabah service Just Like Home, children and youth with disabilities can now experience one of life’s quintessential experiences, a sleepover at a friend’s place.

Just Like Home is a disability accessible overnight accommodation service, specifically for children and young people living in or visiting the Rainbow Region.

Ms Mathew is a Local Access and Inclusion Practitioner and has worked in the disability sector for more than 10 years, in addition to raising a child with disabilities.

“My home is the first in the world to offer a completely accessible space for young people to stay in a home with another family as part of their care, support and growth.”

The idea for Just Like Home began with Ms Mathew’s 12-year-old son Ashton Hayes who has the genetic condition Atypical Rett Syndrome and is in a wheelchair.

“A night at home with our family is fun – making music, kitchen dance parties, gardening, watching movies – but Ashton’s missed out on the slumber party and sleepover experience with his friends due to housing accessibility… I thought, there must be lots of young people out there with disability also missing out,” she said.

“Often someone with a disability has such a planned life, it’s so routine oriented… this experience is just being and immersing yourself in a different environment and learning what comes from that.”

Ms Mathew’s home is completely wheelchair accessible in order to accommodate Ashton’s needs and now the downstairs granny flat is set up to let children and young people with a variety of accessibility and support needs experience something most families take for granted.

The service can currently cater for up to four people at a time, including siblings, so parents can have a real break.

It can be accessed via NDIS funding or out-of-pocket payments and it is available to book seven days a week for up to two weeks at a time.

For more information go to www.justlikehome.com.au.

[written by Francis Witsenhuysen].

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