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“History of North Coast Fun Club

By Sue Parker – President 2006

This story is how I remember the start of the Bowling League and Fun Club.

In 1991 my daughter Tracy Parker finished her schooling at Biala Special School aged 19 years. Tracy started work at Lismore Challenge Limited and need I say this was a CHALLENGE for all, Mum and Dad. Tracy had to travel independently by the local bus company Kirkland’s to Lismore which included changing buses at Spinks Park.

Need I say that for the first month or so we watched the bus like a hawk. For those who don’t know Tracy, she has Downs’ Syndrome and is also legally blind. Tracy is blind in her right eye and only part sight in her left eye from cataracts at birth. In 2006, Tracy continues to travel on the bus to and from Lismore each day for work, and I’m sure that other families who have people going to supported employment at Alstonville and Lismore thank the drivers for the care they take with our special family members.

Tracy, along with us were becoming isolated as she had new friends at work and only saw them during the week. At Easter 1992 the family went bowling and while there I enquired if they had a disabled bowling league that she could join. The Manager at the time told me if I could find 9 disabled bowlers then I could have a league. I told him “OK” you have them.

Three weeks later the Biala Disabled Bowling League commenced and is continuing to go strong today with its band of faithful volunteers.

Once bowling was established and everyone became well acquainted they all started requesting other activities such as Dreamworld, Movie World, etc. After some thought and discussion with the bowling volunteers the Board of Biala was approached to see if there would be any concerns regarding taking groups to outings such as theme parks. This was a great success and over the following couple of years we had other outings. Each of these outings were staffed with volunteers.

Funding became available through the Ballina Shire Council Area Assistance Scheme for certain projects, representatives from the Board of Biala attended a meeting to find out further information about the process of sourcing funding. It was decided that we would try for funding for a Social Club for the over 18 years with intellectual/physical disabilities. The first application was unsuccessful but with more determination the next application was successful with the support of the local manager for disabilities at DOCS. Funding was approved for a period of six years.

Nearing the completion of the six year funding period, the Coordinator of North Coast Fun Club applied for pick up funding through DADHC. This was successful and Biala Support Services Incorporated received a funding agreement to provide social activities for over 18 year olds. This was a great windfall for the organisation and especially the clients and their families as it provides the clients with supervised outings with their friends while providing the families with respite. This is something that very few older clients have.

Tracy still goes bowling each week and even if we have visitors she lets them know it is Thursday and bowling is on. Very rarely does she miss an outing with Fun Club also. Tracy loves her time with her friends and we are thankful that the activities have been such a success for all.

Many thanks must go to my husband and family for their support, encouragement and assistance in the planning of the various activities.