TAMWORTH mum Stevie Clarke knows how hard it is for a disabled child to be accepted into everyday activities most of us take for granted.
A new website though is aiming to make the process easier and Miss Clarke hopes it will be an education for the whole community.
The All In! website was launched in Tamworth at Kids Zone yesterday, aiming to make sure children with disabilities aged 0-8 can take part fully in community activities, groups and events, just as other children do.
The online tool was developed by disability service provider Northcott, with NSW government funding, after the northern region of the state was identified as being in particular need of this kind of support and resources.
Northcott chief executive officer Kerry Stubbs said the site provided free advice tailored to involving a disabled child in a particular situation, such as a sporting event or play date, looking at how to prepare for the occasion, what to do during the activity, common misconceptions and how to improve the next time.
She said children with disabilities were some of the most excluded in the community.
“Every child deserves the right to be included in the community regardless of their level of ability,” Ms Stubbs said.
Local mum Kellie Ryan, whose son has autism, said having a child with a disability involved a lot of “trial and error” but little things could make a big difference.
“I think the All In! reports are really handy. It’s a good starting point for people who don’t know anything or who have fears. I think it will be good for a lot of other parents,” she said.
Miss Clarke agrees, saying her daughter, 12-month-old Zoe, was on the receiving end of a lot of community ignorance.
Zoe has a rare physical disability known as amyoplasia, which affects her muscle development and growth, her joints and movement from the waist down.
It means her little legs are always in splints or plaster, which her mum says attracts comments and stares.
A website to raise people’s awareness of how to be more inclusive of those living with a disability could only help that situation, she said, making people less fearful of interacting with her daughter.
“I particularly love the video (on the website) where it says something like ‘disability might be scary, but we’re actually normal people’. It’s a great message,” Miss Clarke said.