Two Denman men have overcome difficulties to gain both social and trade skills, which will help them lead largely independent lives.
Matthew Richards and Jack Nebauer are working with Challenge Community Services, and are intent on bettering themselves and providing inspiration for others along the way.
They have been learning and completing a number of tasks and activities throughout their time with Challenge, which has taken them to camps at Lake Keepit and Lake Burrendong as well as the Denman’s Men Shed (DMS).
Matthew has really enjoyed his time with DMS, taking particular pride in his oiling and sealing of bird boxes.
The pair have made major strides towards independence, with Matthew seeking to set up his own IT (information technology) company and Jack showing his culinary abilities that would allow him to cook for himself if he moves out of home.
Jack also joked that one thing he has gotten quite good at, and enjoys, is annoying his support worker, Trish Kennedy-Wood.
She spoke highly of the duo, who both joined her after they came out of school.
Despite the boys being shy and unsure of themselves at first, she said they’re now extremely social and confident.
“When they’re out and about in the community, they’ll say hi to people when they see them down the street,” she stated.
“They have no problem asking how they are and having a conversation, I can just leave them now and say I’ll meet up with them later on.”
Jack’s mother, Felisha, has also noticed the difference in her son’s behaviour.
“Socially, he’s come so far,” she said.
“I never thought he would be able to approach other men in the street and shake their hands.
“I can’t thank the team at Challenge enough for their services and for introducing Jack to the Men’s Shed.”
Jack himself has admitted that he is more outgoing than he used to be, and said it has been hugely beneficial to him.
“I can walk by myself independently [to places in the community], I have made new friendships and feel like I belong somewhere,” he said.
Story by Cody Tsaousis, Muswellbrook Chronicle October 22, 2019