Lachlan McMahon is a keen horse rider and campdraft enthusiast.
Like many of his peers at Quirindi High School, Lachlan can’t wait to finish school. While he isn’t sure what to do at the end of the year when Year 12 is over, he’d prefer to work with horses.
“My favourite subject is Primary Industries, but I want to get out of school. I’m ready to leave!” Lachlan said.
According to his mum Sharne, Lachlan was 12 when he started learning to ride a horse and has recently started competing in Horse Sports at school.
“His grandfather taught him, and it took a lot of years for him to get his skills to where they are now,” she said. “We’re going to get him involved in the Cloverleaf Cruisers at Murrurundi so he can continue competing when he finishes school.”
On Friday, March 2, Lachlan secured Reserve Champion in the 16+ male division of the Blandford Public School Horse Sports in Murrurundi.
“I learnt to ride way back in Year 6,” Lachlan said. "My horse Sandy is 20 years old. She can be stubborn when she wants to because she can’t catch anybody for a treat.”
Using his NDIS budget, Lachlan takes part in Challenge Disability Services’ Connexions program aimed at active young people who require a helping hand to achieve their goals. Connexions is not centre-based, so clients participate in activities within their local community.
Connexions provides both group activities and one-on-one support for clients who may have mild intellectual and physical limitations but don’t necessarily consider themselves to be living with a disability.
Lachlan benefits from the help of a one-on-one support worker to help him pursue his interests independently. Not only is Lachlan getting exercise and fresh air, but he's also developing his social skills and creating a network of people who can help guide his life after school.
Challenge has partnered Lachlan with a support worker, Carol, who shares his love of horses. Carol accompanies him on horse rides, to campdraft events, and on walks - whatever takes Lachlan's fancy that day.
“She comes with me to campdrafts, and I go to her place to go horse-riding two days a week," Lachlan said. "At the campdraft, we watch the competition and ride my horse around.”
Sharne said Lachlan decides which activities the pair undertake together.
“Carol supervises him in whatever he wants to do. She takes him out for the day and they go for a ride," Sharne said. “When at campdrafts, she will ride with him, maybe have a break for lunch and watch the campdraft. Then they will go for another ride and meet people.
Since attending campdrafts with Carol, Lachlan has already been offered the opportunity to take up a free riding lesson and a stable tour.
“Carol took me around the campdraft and introduced me to a couple of people who I cleaned saddles for," he said.
As the saying goes, it's not what you know but who you know. By meeting new people, there's a good chance that Lachlan will stumble upon an opportunity that will suit him.
Lachlan also uses the support of Connexions to participate in group activities such as going to the gym or fishing with mates.
“I mainly use the rowing machine, the running machine, all the usuals,” Lachlan said. “We also do a bit of walking together outside of the gym.”
Sharne said she hoped Lachlan would receive additional NDIS funding to continue and increase his participation in Connexions activities and support.
“Connexions has been good for Lachlan, I don’t think I’d want him to go anywhere else,” Sharne said. “He seems to really like it because he can do things with his horse and also take part in other activities.
“Taking part in Connexions and campdrafts allows Lachlan to get out and communicate with different people. He’s grown up a bit since attending Connexions, and it has really helped improve his communication skills.”
By focusing on his interests, Connexions has helped Lachlan discover opportunities while developing his horsemanship and communication skills. To help school leavers like Lachlan, and their parents, to navigate the NDIS and life after school, Challenge Disability Services has produced a free ebook The School Leaver’s Guide to the NDIS.
Lachlan's story was also featured on NBN News, 21 March 2018
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