It was better than a scene from 'Disney On Ice' as more than 300 skaters with a disability took to the ice rink on Friday, July 12 as part of the LiveBetter All Abilities Day during the Bathurst Winter Festival. A partnership between LiveBetter Community Services and Bathurst Regional Council, the day focused on empowering people of all abilities to be part of the Winter Festival and step outside their daily routine.
With sessions running on the hour between 10am and 4pm, there was a sea of smiles as skaters had the opportunity to enjoy the winter wonderland in a safe and supported environment where reduced capacity, and on hand volunteers to assist, made the experience a roaring success.
LiveBetter's Community Access Manager, Michelle Stark, said organisers were excited by the big numbers at the All Abilities event and were encourage by the turn out, with people travelling from as far as Warren and Nyngan. "For some it's their first-time ice skating and it's amazing to see the pure joy on their faces when they get out there," she said. "It's also great to see multiple disability service providers come together to enjoy the day. It gives participants a chance to meet new people and socialise".
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It's the third year that LiveBetter has partnered with Bathurst Regional Council and Ms Stark said the organisation loved being involved. "All Abilities Day empowers people of all abilities to have the opportunity to take part in and enjoy the Winter Festival," she said. "It's vital that these events continue to be accessible and inclusive in our communities because everyone deserves the right to enjoy life and participate in activities anyone can do".
In addition to providing ice skating sessions for people with disability, Bathurst Regional Council also offered paid employment to several NDIS participants as part of the Winter Festival further assisting those who involved in the program.
LiveBetter customer Lara, who accesses the School Leavers Employment Support (SLES) program, gained paid employment at the Winter Festival. Lara, whose duties included selling tickets, handing out skates and helping people get on and off the ice rink, said that it was great work experience to get under her belt. "My long-term goal is to work full time. Being able to work at the Winter Festival gives me independence and gets me out into the community," she said.
The Bathurst Winter Festival once again highlighted that despite the cold, Bathurst is a wonderful place to live. lluminations decorated buildings around the CBD, including the Bathurst Court House and Catholic Church, while Machattie Park was transformed into an enchanted forest with plenty of entertainment.