Technology creates opportunities for disabled youth
Blyth is the headquarters of the Spastic Centres of South Australia (SCOSA) who provide support, education and training to people with disabilities in South Australia. Access to suitable equipment is often a barrier to education, with specialist equipment expensive and often hard to source.
In a move away from traditional activities and communication devices, SCOSA sourced funding through the ANZ Seeds of Renewal grants program to purchase eight iPads for their ‘Tech Connect’ project. Tech Connect aims to connect school students and young people with a disability to break down stereotypes and show how those with a disability can make a positive contribution to their communities. At the same time, it develops leadership skills and introduces new career options for students.
The power of leveraging seed funding to engage corporate and community philanthropic support has been demonstrated with great success in the tiny town of Blyth in regional South Australia.
The support from the FRRR/ANZ Seeds of Renewal program made Tech Connect a reality. The results from the pilot program far exceeded the hopes and expectations of everyone involved. It has now grown from directly supporting 17 SCOSA clients across Port Pirie and Blyth to a program supporting more than 50 clients across the Adelaide metropolitan area.
SCOSA has leveraged the Tech Connect project to raise awareness of their organisation and subsequently received a range of donations, financial support and media opportunities, each of which has delivered more iPads. SCOSA now has 37 iPads being used by clients across 13 Hubs as communication support devices.
Without doubt the most significant finding from the Tech Connect iPad project was the power of the iPad as a connector. At every stage and at every level, the iPads have brought people together. From eight year olds who had never seen a person in a wheelchair, through to older teenagers trying to find their place in the world, all engaged readily and openly creating connections through the wonders of modern technology.