Building skills through your interests and hobbies

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As more and more providers become available for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, there is more choice about who provides your supports.

Key points:

  • Skill building is an important type of support work that gives people with disability more opportunities in life
  • Choosing skill building programs that match your interests and hobbies can lead to you getting more out of the support
  • To look for programs that will fit you, create a list of what you enjoy doing – your interests and hobbies

You may want to think about how your support workers can help you to build your skills and learn new things, which can be part of capacity building supports and community participation.

Life skills programs can help you to develop your employability, independence, confidence, communication and many other skills.

A great way to learn life skills is to do it through a program that aligns with your interests or includes hobbies you have, as the more you enjoy the activities, the more you will learn.

For example, you could join a program that uses team sports to help you develop skills, a craft program where you create artwork while skill building, or a drama and theatre program building confidence and presentation skill sets.

In Victoria, RadioVoice is one such disability provider that delivers skills building for people who are passionate about radio and podcasting.

Daz Smith, Director of RadioVoice, says the program offers young people the opportunity to produce their own show while developing a range of other skills.

Importance of skill building

Skill building is really important for many NDIS participants because it helps you to achieve the goals that your NDIS plan is based on.

You will receive funding for developing skills in the capacity building section of your plan and you can use this funding to pay for support providers.

Skill building that helps you to achieve your goals in your plan can give you positive feelings of enjoyment, satisfaction, fulfilment and value.

Some of the skills you learn while doing programs that reflect your interests might also help you to achieve the bigger goals you have.

For example, if you love to cook, you might learn how to shop for and cook meals by yourself so that you can feed yourself when you move into your own home.

Skill building with hobbies and interests

Since the RadioVoice program began 12 months ago, it has become much more than learning radio skills because it follows what participants want to get out of it.

“It started off as a radio and skills building program and it quickly developed into more of a skills building program where it’s speaking, confidence, communication, resilience, and along the way we learn some radio and podcasting,” explains Mr Smith.

“From there it developed into more of a podcasting program where the guys have finished their program after 12 weeks last year and they’re still with me.”

For RadioVoice participants, their passion for podcasting is the key to achieving their goals.

“To be able to come up with guests, structure some questions and have podcasting in their lives is as rewarding as being on radio,” explains Mr Smith.

“It’s just fantastic to think that these guys who would never get the opportunity now have that, and to sit back to listen to their shows and listen to their podcasts is so rewarding.”

Producing a show that can be listened to all over the world gives Mr Smith’s clients feelings of value and that they are contributing to the community, as well as achieving their life goals.

Radio and podcasting has become a passion for all of Mr Smith’s participants and something to be proud of, all while building their skills.

While you might not be interested in radio or podcasting, there’s a good chance there is a provider out there that can work with you around your unique interests.

Providers thinking of providing unique services

Mr Smith says he has seen how his program’s focus on life skills has provided participants with so much opportunity to grow and develop their skills.

He wants to see more providers deliver unique skills building supports for participants, and encourage support workers to think about how to engage their participants through interests.

“The message is if you’ve got an idea that you believe could benefit then go ahead and do it, ask the questions of the right people – make sure you’re armed with the right information and then give it a shot,” he says.

“There are a lot of [people] in the disability sector that are screaming out for activities, they’re with support workers that will just walk to a shopping centre or go to the movies – and I’m not judging you for doing that – but if you’ve got an idea that you believe can benefit and can help in life skills then go ahead and give it a shot.”

Mr Smith says he has found his unique support goes beyond the studio to other aspects of life that participants want help with – like finding a job, preparing for a job interview or going to the gym.

In this way, the support is there when participants choose to have it and they have control over what they are learning.

Having developed a program that is working for the people he supports, Mr Smith has a few tips for others wanting to provide a skills building service.

“I treat these guys exactly how I would treat everyone else,” says Mr Smith.

“Everybody learns at different speeds and everybody is able to obtain different levels so we say, ‘ok let’s treat everybody as an individual’.

“When it’s tailored to an individual we can really set the pace depending on who it is and what they want to get out of it.”

Finding the service for you

Before choosing a service, spend some time thinking about what you enjoy doing.

Do you like to act or sing? Do you like to spend time outdoors? Do you like to write or draw?

After thinking about what you like to do you can think about other topics or activities you are interested in. For example, you might like to learn more about horse riding, have a passion for the environment or want to help people in your community.

Beyond your interests, you might also have a list of hobbies such as swimming, baking, crocheting or playing musical instruments.

Once you have a list of the hobbies and interests you like to do, you can search the Disability Support Guide website to find providers and programs that match your list.

What skills building programs have you come across that match your hobbies and interests? Tell us in the comments below.

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