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TAdJOURNAL Vol 32 No 3 2012

Achieving the Impossible

Curtis blitzes Spring Cycle Martial Arts Training Special Slide Guitar

Official journal of TAD Disability Services (TADNSW) funded by a grant from Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Family and Community Services NSW Print Post Approved: PP244 099/00021 ISSN 0725.2919

“ I like the mateship at TAD, it’s good to have a laugh with the other blokes and it utilises

a lot of time that would be wasted. I’ve worked with computers since their beginning, so refurbishing them is second nature to me and it’s great to be able to give back to the community. Reg Hespe, retired aircraft engineer, TAD Volunteer and supporter for 17 years.


Who’s TAD? In 1975 a small group of engineers led by George Winston AM decided to use their skills to profoundly change the lives of people with disabilities. Today, TAD Disability Services has 245 volunteers who design and custom build over 1,000 diverse items every year. We also have 15 branches and interest groups throughout NSW run by local volunteers. TAD Disability Services is the only charity in NSW which designs and builds personalised custom equipment to enable people with disabilities to lead more independent lives.

Contents TAD Disability Services Unit 10, 185 Briens Road, Northmead NSW 2152 Locked Bag 2008, Wentworthville NSW 2145 Tel: (02) 9912 3400 Email: Website: ABN: 82 002 042 462 DISCLAIMER The information contained in this journal is of a general nature and is


Curtis Rides the Spring Cycle


Natalie’s Freedom


A Brighter Future


TAD Ambassador Interview


Achieving the Impossible: Special Feature


Honorary Members Awarded


Freedom Wheels


Volunteer Profile


TAD Honour Board

to be used as a guide. TADNSW does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of the technical information in this journal, and disclaims any liability howsoever caused by reason of any application or misapplication of the data or information contained or arising from articles in this journal. TADNSW advises that any person wishing to use or apply any data or information contained in this journal should contact TADNSW for assistance or otherwise seek further professional help. REPRODUCTION OF TAD Disability services’ MATERIAL Articles published in the TADJournal may be reproduced with credit to TADNSW, as long as permission is obtained. Reproduced articles may not be edited unless the edited version is approved by TADNSW prior to publication.




is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. “ Impossible It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. ” TAD JOURNAL VOL. 32 NO. 3

Muhammad Ali

I did it! I did it! On a bright Sunday morning in October, five year old Curtis Crichton stood on a little wooden stage next to the start line at the Sydney Spring Cycle with his mum, dad and TAD’s new ambassador Paralympic Cyclist Jayme Richardson. With a huge smile on his face, Curtis high-fived and waved to the passing cyclists, who were setting off on their ride. Curtis has cerebral palsy and can’t walk without assistance. He got his custom made Freedom Wheels bike from TAD last year and since then he has been a regular fixture on Manly Boardwalk, cycling with his dad Jamie who rides a skateboard. Jamie said, “The bike has helped in his therapy a lot and when he is standing his balance is improving. Now he is even using walking sticks for short periods and over short distances.” Curtis and his family signed up to ride for TAD in the Spring Cycle in which TAD was a Gold Pedal Charity. Originally they made provision for Curtis to cycle from North Sydney, over the Harbour Bridge to Macquarie Street, a distance of around 5km.

This would have been an amazing achievement for Curtis. Curtis set off alongside his mum Kylie, dad Jamie, Jayme Richardson, family friend Paul and kindergarten teacher Nadine. When the team made it to Macquarie Street, Curtis didn’t stop. He didn’t stop when they got to the Art Gallery of NSW or at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. He didn’t stop as he passed Sydney’s oldest buildings in the Rocks. Curtis didn’t stop until he crossed the finish line 15km later at Pirrama Park in Pyrmont. As he swapped his helmet for a TAD Hero cap he exclaimed to everyone who could hear, “I did it! I did it!” Curtis was the top individual fundraiser in a field of 9,000 riders raising an amazing $5,435 for TAD to provide Freedom Wheels bikes for other kids with disabilities. Find out what Jayme Richardson thought of Curtis’ achievement on page eight.

From the CEO Resilience and determination are the words that spring to mind when I read through each of the stories in this edition. Little Curtis Crichton’s story is just simply inspiring and is testament to the resilience and determination that people with disabilities demonstrate every day. Curtis had not been well for a few days and we were unsure whether he would even make it to the Harbour Bridge let alone Pyrmont. But this little boy, with the support of his family, friends and the tremendous encouragement of hundreds of riders showed his determination by riding the full 15km. A few days later, his mum Kylie said to me that she had learnt a valuable lesson, never to set limitations on Curtis. Solving the seemingly impossible is what TAD does so remarkably well, with the only boundaries set being that our solutions are safe and affordable. Our clients set their own goals. For Natalie, impossible was just an opinion and her story is just one of the examples we’ve pulled together for this issue of a very special TAD Journal. These stories have been made possible because each client had a firm belief that they could live their life their way and that the word impossible was two letters too long. The solutions developed by TAD are the result of their belief in the possible, collaboration with the client and a commitment to going the extra mile to meet client expectations. Finally to every one of our readers, I’d like to say a very sincere thank you for your interest and your support in 2012. Wishing you and your families a very happy and peaceful Christmas. Alan McGregor, Chief Executive Officer TAD Disability Services

A future medal winner? Curtis eyes up Paralympic cyclist Jayme Richardson’s medal with dad Jamie and mum Kylie.



Custom Designed Equipment

Natalie’s Freedom

Natalie with her favourite Sharks player Ben Ross.

Natalie on the sideline with the fixture on her wheelchair.

Natalie is 23 years old and is a happy young woman with a cheeky sense of humour who loves music, singing and footie. Her favourite footie team is the Sharks.

supported all five pumps to the back of Natalie’s chair. This involved creating brackets which held a longer central pole, two extra upright tubes on either side of Natalie’s headrest, and custom made attachments for IV fluids.

Natalie has a rare progressive neurological disorder. As a result, she has been in hospital for two and a half years. She gets all her food and medicines through a central line. Initially this meant she had two medication pumps attached to her powered wheelchair by a customised bracket. Her medical requirements increased to the point where she needed three additional pumps - one regular pump and two larger, heavier pumps. Natalie’s Occupational Therapist contacted TAD to see if anything could be done to enable Natalie to travel independently away from hospital with all five pumps attached to her wheelchair. TAD’s therapists, engineer and volunteers got together to discuss solutions. They needed to find a way to fix the extra pumps to the chair. This meant taking into account the wheelchair’s stability, Natalie’s reliance on constant access to the pumps, and the practicalities of transferring her in and out of her wheelchair with all the equipment, as well as access to her van for transport. The TAD volunteer assigned to the job is a former engineer with skills in welding, toolmaking and fitting. After visiting Natalie in hospital and assessing her chair he came up with a solution. He created a fixture that



This meant that Natalie was able to leave hospital and see the Sharks play for the first time in over two years. TV presenter Glenn Wheeler organised for Natalie to visit the stadium and meet the players. Natalie and her family were delighted. For mum Lyn, it was so special, and she is extremely appreciative of the amazing work done to achieve Natalie’s dream. “I can’t think of anyone else who would be able to do this. Our volunteer has been amazing. A skilled, talented man with a big heart and endless patience,” says Lyn. “The most important thing is Natalie’s independence. Before TAD got involved, we had to walk beside her and push the IV pole that held her pumps. Now that they are attached to the chair, she is in control and independent and that means everything.” SUMMARY Client Profile: Progressive neurological disorder Description of project: Support Fixture for powered wheelchair Age Group: Adult

“ We’ve used TAD’s Computer Support Service for years A Brighter Future

and it’s helped so many people in the area get a start in learning IT skills. ”

The children at Mercy Orphanage learning to use refurbished computers from TAD.

The district of Senapati in India, lies to the country’s east, near the Burmese border. Tucked away among the rolling mountains is Mercy Orphanage, run by husband and wife team Toah and Danai. Together they provide care and education to 35 children aged between five and fourteen who are disadvantaged or orphaned. The orphanage was founded by East Gosford resident and school teacher Glenda Ikundi. Glenda was volunteering for another orphanage in India and recognised the need in Senapati for care for children who have been neglected through tribal unrest or drug trafficking in the region. Glenda has the support of the Destiny Life Church in Gosford, where Senior Pastors Peter and Leonie McNab help her to raise funds for clothing and education costs. The orphanage gets an electricity supply from a local army base and can power electrical items. Toah is very keen to expose the children to technology and the potential of computers and teach them basic skills. He previously had just one small computer for administration but wanted more computers to show educational films, teach typing and introduce the children to the world beyond their village.

Peter said, “We’ve used TAD’s Computer Support Service for years and it’s helped so many people in the area get a start in learning IT skills. We used to buy TAD computers for carers of disadvantaged children to help the kids keep up with their homework. So much of school work requires a computer and not everyone can keep up financially.” When Glenda took the computers to the orphanage the smiles on the children’s faces told the whole story. It was not long before they had mastered keyboard skills and even worked out how to play adventure games. Peter added, “English is the main language of education and commerce in India and the frequent use of up to date technology will almost guarantee that these children, who are from subsistence farming tribes, will gain access to higher education facilities and good jobs in the future.”

Peter got in touch with TAD’s Computer Support Service to see if there was any possibility of getting computers for the orphanage. TAD’s volunteers happily took up the challenge to refurbish donated computers and fit them out with the right software for the children.



TAD Ambassador Interview

Five minutes with Jayme Richardson

“ There is no such word as “can’t”. It’s hard work but if you’ve got the determination and a big heart you will get there.” Paralympic Cyclist Jayme Richardson with TAD client Jaxon Taylor and his bike.

Why is TAD’s Freedom Wheels bikes a cause that is close to your heart? This cause is so close to my heart because I love riding my own bike and remember how hard it was for me when I was younger to find bikes I could ride. The job TAD does now enables kids to feel free and ride their own bikes without the assistance of mum and dad. They can ride alongside their siblings, not tagging behind. How does it feel to be TAD’s new ambassador? I am honoured to be a TAD ambassador and I’m honoured to be able to be in the company of kids like Jaxon (pictured above) and Curtis. I’m honoured to be a part of changing kids’ futures. How did you feel riding next to five year old Curtis on his Freedom Wheels bike in the Spring Cycle? I felt very privileged and a sense of overwhelming pride to ride with Curtis and be part of his special journey. What is your diagnosis and how does it affect you? I have Cerebellar Ataxia, a form of Cerebral Palsy, this causes my arms and legs to shake and I have hardly any co-ordination and very low balance.



How did you get involved with the Paralympics? I first found out about the Paralympics when my school took me to the Sydney 2000 games. From there, I got into swimming through the school carnivals. I swam for five years until I saw the 2004 Paralympics where Claire McLean, who had just won silver, stated they needed more female cyclists. So I said I would give it a go. I was 15 at the time and had only come off training wheels five years earlier. What is your career ambition? To go on to Rio in 2016 and aim to beat both my world records, 500m on track and 3000m on track, start a family and then go on to 2020. How do you feel when you ride a bike? When I ride a bike I feel free, I feel like I’m doing something for my country. What would you say to a child with a disability who would like to ride a bike or become a Paralympic cyclist? Go for it! There is no such word as “can’t”. It’s hard work but if you’ve got the determination and a big heart you will get there.

Special Feature

Achieving the Impossible

December 2012

Our second special feature focuses on how we help our clients achieve their personal goals.

Martial Arts Training Dummy Like many young men in their twenties, Edward Warren likes martial arts. He learned all about Taekwondo from a young age but it was the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun that really captured his imagination. Wing Chun is a form of self-defence and promotes awareness of the body. Students are encouraged to practise with a wooden training dummy to improve their form. Edward has Cerebral Palsy and as a result has limited use of his legs. He uses a walking frame for support to stand and a wheelchair to get around. Edward needed a training dummy which could be accessed from both his wheelchair and standing frame. It also needed to fit into a corner of his bedroom. TAD volunteer Owen Glover took up the challenge. Owen is 86 and a former industrial engineer. He has been a TAD volunteer for two years. “To start with, I made models of the dummy with straws and PVC to see how it could work,” explains Owen.

Models of the dummy made from PVC and straws


Originally Owen thought of making the main body of the dummy from wood but as it was too expensive he used a pipe cut in half.

TAD DISABILITY SERVICES Post: Locked Bag 2008, Wentworthville NSW 2145 Office: Unit 10, 185 Briens Road, Northmead, NSW 2152 T: 1300 663 243 F: (02) 9890 1911

I love martial arts and Bruce Lee is a real inspiration to me. It’s great to be able to practise. Get your FREE copy of TADAid TADAid is a resource outlining the type and range of equipment that TAD’s Custom Designed Equipment service can provide for people with disabilities and seniors. To get your copy email your name and address to

Client Profile: Cerebral Palsy

The arms of the dummy had to Description: Wing Chun Training Dummy be able to move up and down depending on whether Edward was Age Group: Adult using his walking frame or wheelchair. Volunteer: Owen Glover Project Number: SO12-0110

Continued Overleaf

For more information on any item in this feature call 02 9912 3400 or email TAD JOURNAL VOL. 32 NO. 3 9

Achieving the Impossible

Pat’s Loom When Pat Muir was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, she decided to try all the things she ever wanted to do in her life. One of these things was weaving. “I taught myself from a book and then I became a bit of a loom-aholic,” says Pat. “I bought bigger and bigger looms until I got a computer controlled Dobby loom.” Pat makes cloth for local medieval reenactors, which is a hobby the whole family are involved in. Pat’s diagnosis creates a lot of stiffness which was causing her pain when using her loom. It became hard on her hips as she had to use some force to push down on the pedal to activate the loom. Eventually weaving, her favourite hobby, only meant pain and discomfort. She contacted TAD to see if there was anything that could help. Volunteer Col McIntyre, from the TAD Illawarra group, visited Pat to investigate the loom. Col’s solution was to bypass the original foot pedal and introduce a pneumatic system to do the work that the original lever was doing. Col put a pneumatic cylinder into the system and a new foot pedal which would be much lighter for Pat to push. The new pedal directs air into the cylinder which creates the energy that was being done by the original lever. Col initially made a prototype with materials borrowed from TAFE to ensure that the system worked. Pat was delighted with the outcome. “Col was the perfect guy for the job. He had such a good grasp of what I wanted and his solution is so elegant. I wouldn’t have been able to keep weaving without his help. The smile on my face has been enormous ever since!”

pneumatic cylinder

air compressor

SUMMARY Client Profile: Parkinson’s disease Description: Loom modification Age Group: Adult Volunteer: Col McIntyre Project Number: SO12-0182

Martial Arts Training Dummy (continued) To allow for this, Owen added a counterweight and used a Teflon track to decrease the friction and make it easier to slide. “It was good to work with Edward and his family,” says Owen. “Everyone got involved. Edward’s mum Zenny sewed together the punching pads made from leather and foam.” Owen has made the dummy easy to transport and dismantle so that it’s not in a fixed place. For Edward it was just what he wanted. “I love martial arts and Bruce Lee is a real inspiration to me. It’s great to be able to practise - Owen’s done an amazing job.”

To see a film of Edward practicing visit

Top: Pat weaving. Left: Foot pedal to operate pneumatic valve & stool for comfortable height. Right: completed loom with pneumatic cylinder and air compressor.

Achieving the Impossible

Stuart’s Slide Guitar SUMMARY Client Profile: Left side hemiplegia in arm and leg Description of Project: Guitar modification Age Group: Adult Volunteers: Tom Yelland Project Number: SO12-0436 Left: Stuart Armsworth with his modified slide guitar and guitar collection.

“I love my guitars,” says Stuart Armsworth. “I think any musician would tell you that you become very attached to your instruments, they’re almost like children to me.” Stuart has played the guitar for 35 years, ever since he borrowed his brother’s guitar and taught himself how to play. “I have very eclectic taste; I love pretty much everything – except country and western!” In 2010, Stuart had a stroke. This resulted in a left side hemiplegia in his arm and leg which means the muscles on this side of his body are weak. Stuart had to learn how to walk again which he does with a stick. This also meant, he was no longer able to play the guitar because of the weakness in his shoulder and arm muscles. “I really missed playing music,” explains Stuart. “Not being able to play created such a hole in my life, it was how I relaxed.” On a trip to America last Christmas, Stuart’s family presented him with a lap slide guitar which they thought might be easier for him to play. Stuart’s therapist at Westmead Rehabilitation Hospital referred him to TAD and occupational therapist Jessica Canacott met with them to assess Stuart’s arm movement. Jessica then got in touch with TAD volunteer Tom Yelland. Tom is a former engineer who built roads and bridges before he retired. He joined TAD two years ago. Tom loves guitars and has previously built an acoustic guitar under tuition from a luthier.

Guitar before the modification.

“I have five guitars myself so I understood how important it was to Stuart to play again,” says Tom. Tom built a guide rail to attach onto the guitar’s neck but it was also completely removable. This was to act as a guide for the slide so that it would not slip off the strings when Stuart played the guitar. Tom colour matched this to the guitar so that it maintained the aesthetic. He also built a wooden saddle support to hold the slide so that Stuart didn’t have to put it on his finger. He attached the saddle to a broom handle which Stuart could control. Jessica got Stuart a neoprene glove so that he could get a good grip of the handle. Tom marked the names of the chords on the guide rail so that Stuart could see what chords he was playing. They also provided non slip material to place on his lap so that the guitar wouldn’t slide off. Now Stuart is learning to play again. “Tom and Jess were amazing. Tom completely understood the loss I felt without music. He went the extra mile to figure out the best way to make it work. He even saw my other guitars and built a slide and handle that would work on them. It’s amazing because it’s also giving me important exercise for my muscles but I get to make some noise while I do it.” For Stuart’s wife Debbie, it’s been special to hear him play again, “What Tom has done is amazing, it’s wonderful to hear Stuart make music again.”

Guitar with the guide rail.

Stuart playing guitar with saddle.


More ideas for achieving the impossible At TAD, our volunteers and therapists love a challenge. It is their mission to help people with disabilities achieve the things they want to achieve, no matter how impossible it seems. Over the years they have designed

and modified many items to make them accessible for people with disabilities. Some more examples appear below.

Tennis Ball Holder A young client with an incomplete left hand was very keen to play tennis, but he was unable to throw the ball up to serve. This device is a shallow cup made from electrical conduit which is fastened to a Velcro strap by a plastic plate. The client can serve the ball in the usual fashion by holding his left arm at a right angle to his body and placing the ball in the cup using his right hand.

Wheelchair Cricket Bat This wheelchair cricket bat can be used with any kind of powered wheelchair. It is positioned on a rectangular mount board and can slide through a distance of about one metre so it can be used by left or right sided batsman. The bat is also able to tilt which allows more stroke options and enables batsmen without much head movement to see the bat no matter where their head is positioned. The bat is twice the width of a regular cricket bat with a similar shape.

Camera wheelchair mount and controller This sophisticated device was designed for a client whose jerky arm and hand movement resulted in very blurred and poorly framed photographs. It includes a remote control and a mounting frame for the client’s wheelchair. The remote control has easily operated buttons for focus, shutter release and zoom functions. The camera can be fully rotated horizontally. Once the camera is aimed, the photographer doesn’t have to touch the camera to take the picture. The mounting frame is universal and can be transferred to another wheelchair in the future.

Model Stand This client is very keen on making models, which requires joining and painting cast resin pieces. As he has cerebral palsy which affects his right side, he asked for a stand to keep the models firmly in position while he works on them with his stronger hand. The clamps on the stand hold any shape either gently or firmly and don’t damage the resin. The models can be positioned at any angle and can be rotated 360 degrees without unclamping. It is entirely operable with one hand.

How to apply for services from TAD You can call us on 02 9912 3400. Or ask your therapist to submit a Project Application Form from our website. 12 TAD JOURNAL VOL. 32 NO. 3

Honorary Members Awarded

New Directors

Wal Anderson

Robert Star

Wal joined TAD Central Coast in 2001. He is a licensed carpenter and has made many projects for TAD’s clients. Wal soon became Job Coordinator of the branch and took great pleasure in getting involved with all the local physiotherapists and promoting TAD.

Robert is currently the Job Coordinator at TAD Central Coast. He is a skilled welder as well as a mechanical fitter and turner. Robert is featured in our volunteer profile on page 16.

TAD is delighted to announce the appointment of two new directors to the board. Marianne Hammerton (left) has vast experience in Public Service and Human Service agencies in management and executive roles. She is currently a Director at ORH & Stream Lead - Corporate Reform. Beverly Kirkby-Gray (right) has an extensive background in business, retail, sales and marketing and is a former State Manager of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Former company secretary Tony Mamo will also join the board as Treasurer.

Penny Lye

Malcolm Lye

Penny was one of the largest donors to the TAD House appeal and has continued to make substantial donations to every TAD appeal and fundraising venture since. As well as supporting her husband Malcolm during his time on the TAD Board she also applied her journalistic talents to the TAD Journal and other TAD publications.

Malcolm joined the TAD Board when he retired in 2000 and was the chairman of the TAD House Appeal, doing much of the legwork in ensuring the funds were raised. With his wife Penny he is one of the largest cash contributors to TAD, often anonymously. He has been involved with nearly all TAD’s activities in the past 11 years dinners, open days and fundraising events.

Eric Booth In 1984 Eric Booth, a retired engineer, helped establish the Albury/Wodonga Branch of TAD. He was the inaugural co-ordinator and held this position for 20 years. Eric was very hands on and in 1985 he designed and built a bicycle made for two; not a tandem but two bicycles joined side by side. This was for a seven year old boy with cerebral palsy and it allowed his father to share his outings.

Become a Member or a Volunteer If you are interested in becoming a member or volunteer of TAD give us a call. We are always looking for skilled volunteers in many areas to join the team and help us provide equipment to people with disabilities. Call 1300 663 243 or visit

A heartfelt thanks goes to former directors Peter Bennett, Paul HughJones, Laurie Nelson and Bill Todd for their dedication, guidance and energy during their time on the TAD board.

Thank you!

TAD’s Central West Branch were delighted to be the beneficiary of the proceeds from the Bathurst Presbyterian Church’s Annual Fair. TAD Central West Branch volunteers presented Reverend Tim Abbey with a certificate of appreciation. Pictured above from left to right: Vice Chairman Alvan Hancock, CEO Alan McGregor, Treasurer Dick Smith, Rev Tim Abbey and Chairman Geoff Key. TAD JOURNAL VOL. 32 NO. 3


Freedom Wheels

Blair’s Freedom Wheels

Julia, Blair and Chris Sawer

“When I was told Blair had Cerebral Palsy, I began to grieve,” says Julia Sawer. “I grieved for all the things he wouldn’t be able to do and the life he wouldn’t be able to have. But eventually I realised no one was going to tell me how to raise him and I had to find out myself.” When Blair was born in 2008, Julia and her husband Chris already had two children, Emily and Brayden. Blair was born nine weeks premature and they were told that he would have some developmental delay. “We knew that everything wasn’t quite right. As he approached 18 months, he couldn’t lift his head off his chest, he never used his right hand which remained in a fist, he couldn’t talk. It was around this time that Blair was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.”

Julia found TAD through her research and got in touch to see if Blair could get a specially made corner table and chair. “Finding TAD was life-changing,” says Julia. “The corner table and chair meant that Blair was well supported and could play by himself, so if I had to leave the room for a minute I didn’t have to worry. It also meant that I could sit opposite him rather than behind him when we played which was huge for his development.” Blair is the proud owner of various pieces of TAD equipment. He has a Chailley Cart which enables him to

Julia, like so many parents of children with disabilities, felt isolated. She began to research and investigate all the things available to Blair to give him the best chance. In March 2011, she set up a Facebook page called Blair’s Wish as a way to connect to other mums and share what she had found out. “We were overwhelmed by the messages of support we got,” smiles Julia. “We were a very private family and it felt strange that people across the world were sending us encouragement.”



Blair on his Chailley Cart

“ You would never expect that you’d push

a child into a workshop in a wheelchair and then they would cycle out on a bike.” propel himself by pushing the large wheels. He also has a bath seat to support him in the bath, a sit-to-stand ladder so he can practice standing up from a sitting position and most recently, a Freedom Wheels bike. “The bike is amazing,” says Julia with a huge grin. “You would never expect that you’d push a child into a workshop in a wheelchair and then they would cycle out on a bike. I never thought Blair could achieve this milestone. His brother and sister were so excited to go on their first bike ride with him and as we went down the street all the neighbours were waving. Blair had an intense look of determination on his face as he stared at his feet going round with the pedals.” Now Blair’s Wish is more than just a Facebook page, Julia has set up it up as a not-for-profit organisation in support of families on the Central Coast affected by Cerebral Palsy. They are operating an Equipment Loan Pool for families in the area with some of this equipment coming from TAD. “The volunteers at TAD are fantastic,” says Julia. “They are so clever and constantly developing equipment to make it even more effective. It’s so good to be involved with an organisation that has helped us and so many other families already.” To find out more about Blair and Blair’s Wish you can visit or To apply for a Freedom Wheels bike visit

Blair on his Freedom Wheels bike.

SUMMARY Client Profile: Cerebral Palsy Description of Project: Freedom Wheels bike Age Group: Child Volunteer: Robert Star Project Number: 12/13 47




Volunteer Profile

A Humble Man

“ It’s always interesting to see the parents’ reaction to their child riding a bike. Often they think it can’t be done and I enjoy their surprise when they see it happen.” TAD Central Coast volunteer Robert Star

Robert Star is a busy man. He is a father of four, a grandfather of twelve, a great-grandfather of four and has been married to Xenie for 51 years. On top of this, he is the Job Coordinator at TAD Central Coast.

“My first project was to fit an intravenous feeding station to the back of a wheelchair. I welded the support from stainless steel. I think I’ve become quite good at adapting and recycling things.”

“I think my family like what I do,” says Robert, perched on the lounge in the house of one of the families he’s helped. He looks on as four year old Blair practices standing with a sit-to-stand ladder that Robert has made. “My wife helps me with the sewing on some of the projects when it’s particularly busy.”

For Robert, taking a role at TAD was a way to adapt to retirement.

Robert grew up in Lithgow where he served as an apprentice fitter on the steam railway working with locomotives. “It was a good position to get and it covered fitting, machining and general engineering.” Robert then took a role at Wallerawang Power Station where he worked for 25 years becoming a maintenance supervisor. During his time there he studied for a degree in engineering at TAFE. When he took voluntary redundancy, Robert wanted to do something that would keep him busy. After a stint working as a kitchen hand for Meals on Wheels, he saw an advert in the local paper, requesting volunteers with general, practical skills. He then went along to his first TAD meeting.



“I wanted to keep my skills active and my mind engaged, I suppose that’s very common for a lot of people,” says Robert. “I also wanted to do something that would benefit other people and TAD fitted the bill.” Robert has worked on many projects over the 12 years he has been with TAD. The most memorable being a shower platform for an eight year old boy who couldn’t stand up and was too heavy to be lifted in or out of the bath. The platform enabled the child to lie down at an accessible height and be washed with the shower head. “I made a steel frame with a textilene centre and this could fold away so that other members of the family could use the bath and shower as normal. The family were really happy with it.” Robert’s role also requires a high level of organisational skills. He receives applications from clients and often visits them with a therapist then assigns the project to one of the volunteers in the area or takes it on himself.

Volunteer Years of Service Awards 2012 Many of the volunteers in the Central Coast have particular skills like welding and woodwork and often share projects, taking on different elements of the job, making each project a real collaborative effort. Robert’s hard work in the community was acknowledged with an award at the Erina Rotary Club Vocational Awards in 2010 and he has also featured in local newspaper articles to promote TAD and the work the volunteers do in the Central Coast. One aspect he has been particularly involved in is modified bikes and Freedom Wheels. Robert has trial bikes in his garage at home and families and therapists go there for an assessment and ride a bike for the first time. “It’s always interesting to see the parents’ reaction to their child riding a bike, often they think it can’t be done and I enjoy their surprise when they see it happen,” says Robert, a smile creeping across his face.

35 Years

8 Years

Don Payne

Ray Allen David Barrott Rosemary Barrott Grant Cockburn Ernst Fenske Paul Herring Christopher Hingee Alf Millson Brian Sherlock Owen Spencer Bruce Watts

20 Years John Griffiths Bill Jenkins Eric Venn

16 Years Ken Hickson Geoffrey Key Garry Smith Richard Smith

12 Years James Campbell Bruce Gamack Lancelot Hines Jack Hogan Barry Howard Colin Hunter Jack Kestle Malcolm Lye John Simpson Robert Star Russel Whitehurst

4 Years Graeme Black Rolf Edler Richard Gross Brian Haynes Russell Jacka Michael Kinch Johann Neser John Rose John Salter Tony Sutton

INDEPENDENT LIVING CENTRE NSW We have information about all kinds of products, equipment and home design to make everyday living easier. OUR SERVICES INCLUDE: assistive technology information journal and website display centre access audits and advice home modifications advice

Top: Robert featured in the Central Coast Express Advocate last month with five year old Blake Smith on his brand new bike. Above: Robert testing the bell on Blair Sawer’s bike.

Level 4, Shop 4019, Westpoint Blacktown 17 Patrick Street, BLACKTOWN, NSW 2148 Weekdays 9.00 am – 5.00 pm Info-Line 1300 885 886  02 9912 5800 Fax: 02 8814 9656 email:  Web:



Thank you for your support in 2012 In 2012 we were overwhelmed by the strength of community support for TAD. From local councils to clubs and schools, there has been a groundswell of grassroots support for our projects. Support has come not only through cash donations, but in-kind support and, of course, our incredible volunteers.

It is extremely heartwarming for our small team to receive this support to enable TAD to continue to make custom bikes, chairs, standing frames, cots, computers and much more for children and adults with disabilities. We have tried to acknowledge every club, every community group and school who have helped below.

Community Groups and Councils Ashcroft High School Ashfield City Council Asquith Rugby League Club Bathurst Regional Council Bathurst RSL Club Limited Burwood Council Burwood RSL Club Canada Bay Club Canada Bay Council Castle Hill RSL Club Eastwood Uniting Church Musical Society Guildford Bowling and Recreation Club Halekulani Bowling Club Hornsby RSL Club Hornsby Shire Council Hurstville City Council Kempsey Shire Council Lions Club of Austinmer/Thirroul Lions Club of Bondi Lions Club of Bomaderry Lions Club of Corrimal Lions Club of Dapto Lions Club of Figtree Lions Club of Gerringong Lions Club of Helensburgh Lions Club of Kiama Lions Club of Minamurra Lions Club of Nowra Lions Club of Oak Flats Lions Club of Parramatta Lions Club of Sussex Inlet Lions Club of Wollongong Lions Clubs District 201-N5 Lioness Club of Oak Flats Lioness Club of Shoalhaven Lioness Club of Wollongong Heights



Manly-Warringah Rugby League Club Mackellar Girls Campus Merrylands RSL Club Mittagong RSL Club North Ryde RSL Community Club Panthers Group Parramatta City Council Parramatta High School Parramatta Leagues Club Pennant Hills HG Tennis Club Penrith Panthers Penshurst RSL Club Pittwater Council Pittwater RSL Club Port Macquarie Lions Club Randwick City Council Riverwood Legion & Community Club Rotary Club of Crows Nest Rotary Club of Galston Rotary Club of Lower Blue Mountains Rotary Club of Macarthur Sunrise Rotary Club of Miranda Rotary Club of Narellan Rotary Club of Padstow Rotary Club of Springwood Ryde City Council South Sydney Junior Rugby Leagues Terrigal Trotters The Hills Shire Council Toukley RSL Club Wagga Wagga City Council Wagga Wagga RSL Club Wenty Leagues Wests Ashfield Leagues Wingecarribee Shire Council Wyong Rugby League Club

Flynn Gordon and Jarrod Collett receive their bikes from a group of Lions clubs in the Illawarra and the Shoalhaven.

Cate Smith plays with a sensory table, specially modified for better access.

we wouldn’t be here without you.

Live for Kids Bike presentation in Port Macquarie

Government, Trusts and Foundations Ageing Disability and Home Care, Department of Family and Community Services NSW Allens Arthur Robinson Charity Committee Cecilia Kilkeary Foundation Ltd Coles Danziger Foundation Gregory Patrick & Marie Dolores Farrell Foundation Live for Kids Lyceum Group Foundation Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Perpetual Trustees

Reserve Bank Benevolent Fund Sisters of Charity The Baxter Charitable Trust The Fairbridge Foundation The George Lewin Foundation The Ian Potter Foundation The James N Kirby Foundation The Lara Jean Association The RA Gale Foundation The Raymond E Purves Foundation

Nioka Bush in Dubbo and Chelsea Swab in Tamworth with their Freedom Wheels bikes from Lyceum Group Foundation.

Thank you Mackellar Girls Campus The amazing students at Mackellar Girls Campus raised an incredible $1,000 for TAD’s Freedom Wheels program. The students raised the money through their commerce class and after seeing Curtis Crichton ride his Freedom Wheels bike in the Spring Cycle they wanted to donate their profits to TAD. Teacher Carol Hourigan said, “The students put a lot of work into raising the funds by running enterprises within the school, organising meetings and planning advertising. It’s a great cause and they are happy to help.”

TAD Development Manager Fran Connelley and Mackellar student Gabby McCain. TAD JOURNAL VOL. 32 NO. 3


DIRECTORY TAD Disability services (Tadnsw) Patron Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, AC CVO Governor of New South Wales Vice Patron Mark Bagshaw BA, Dip Int Marketing Managing Director, Innov8 Consulting Group address Unit 10, 185 Briens Road Northmead NSW 2152 Locked Bag 2008, Wentworthville NSW 2145 Phone and fax Phone: (02) 9912 3400 Freecall: 1300 663 243 General fax: (02) 9890 1911 CDE Service fax: (02) 9890 1912 ONLINE



Email Administration: Custom Designed Equipment Service: Freedom Wheels Modified Bike service: George Winston Communication Service: Computer Support Service: Development: Branches and interest groups (Phone 1300 663 243 for details of your nearest group) Albury/Wodonga, Central Coast, Central West, Coffs Harbour, Hunter, Illawarra, Manning/Great Lakes, Northern Rivers, Port Macquarie, Shoalhaven.

TAD around australia TADACT T: (02) 6287 4290; E: TAD Queensland T: (07) 3216 1733; E: Technical Aid to the Disabled (SA) T: (08) 8261 2922; E: Technical Aid to the Disabled (Tas) T: (03) 6223 7794; E: TADVIC T: (03) 9853 8655; E: Technology Assisting Disability WA T: (08) 9379 7400; E:;

TAD Journal Vol 32 No 3 2012  

The TAD Journal features the custom designed equipment and support TAD Disability Services provides to enable people with disabilities to le...