Potential for annual inclusive event

Matt Spencer (centre) was on hand to teach the participants BMX tricks.

Narrandera’s first celebration of Social Inclusion Day on Friday afternoon at the Marie Bashir Park is hopefully the start of an annual event for the town.

Social Inclusion Week, which was started by the School of Hard Knocks, is technically the last week of November, but Ability Links NSW decided to make the week into a one-day festival for Narrandera.

Ability Links have also organised other Social Inclusion Week events around the region to fall into the month of November.

Organiser Olivia Maier-Gee said bad weather and competing events may have resulted in a smaller attendance than what she would have liked. Heavy rain was recorded earlier in the day and the temperature dropped rapidly further into the evening.

Ms Maier-Gee said that despite the setbacks there were plenty of people asking if the event could be repeated next year.

After heavy rain all morning, the afternoon was bright and warm for children to enjoy themselves in the Marie Bashir Park.

Key social inclusion target groups include young people 12–25 years of age, jobless families with children, disadvantaged Australians, people with a disability or mental illness, people who are homeless, the elderly and Indigenous Australians.

“We had a lot of littlies,” said Ms Maier-Gee.

“I didn’t realise the touch football was on in Narrandera the same day, I only found out during the Welcome to Country. I think that’s why we didn’t quite get the age group in mind.”

Despite that, there were around 100 people who attended the afternoon, with a lot of younger children and their parents attending.

“I had Quentin Bell give a speech about bullying, and that went well, but that 13 to 17 age group that could have really benefitted from the speech just weren’t there,” she said.

“There was a wine event in Griffith that night and they didn’t get the crowds they were hoping for either. Maybe next year we will try to hold in on the Sportsground and see if that makes a difference.”

The activities were a hit, with Marvel-themed sumo wrestling, a spray-paint mural for everyone to have a go painting, life-sized board games and puzzles, as well as face-painting, jumping castles and boxing sessions with Bidgee Boxing.

“The cupcake decorating was successful and the fashion parade was a good confidence builder.”

The fashion parade was a display of clothing from Fusion, with local teenagers and people from Kurrajong as models. The models got the chance to decorate and eat cupcakes before the fashion parade.

There were also BMX demonstrations and coaching with Matt Spencer, who showed the kids at the skate park how to do jumps and tricks on their bikes and scooters.

In addition to BMX coaching, Mr Spencer also conducts “Let’s Ride” road bike safety courses for primary-school aged children.

With the theme Connect, Collaborate and Celebrate, the day was about inviting the people of Narrandera to come together for the afternoon.

“The people who came along on the day had a great time and we had a really good atmosphere,” Ms Maier-Gee said.

“I think it would be great if people in Narrandera got behind it and got it going.”

Social Inclusion Week (SIW) Australia is about encouraging communities to reconnect and be inclusive of all cultures, age groups, nationalities and the disadvantaged.

Founded by Dr Jonathon Welch AM, and supported by the School of Hard Knocks and the Choir of Hard Knocks, SIW was launched in 2009 as a way for communities to share knowledge and experience to educate and raise awareness.

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