COMMUNITY eNEWSLETTER  |  JUNE 2020

Supporting children and young adults with autism
across Sydney and Melbourne.

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SPOTLIGHT ON 25 YEARS

OUR JOURNEY

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SYDNEY

Patrick is the only one of the 12 original students still attending Giant Steps (Adult Autism Services). When Giant Steps started in July 1995 no one could have imagined what it would be like today. At that time, we occupied just one building and it accommodated the entire school. We now occupy a dozen or so buildings, all of which have been transformed. The change in physical environment is nothing in comparison with the quality of the programs that are provided within them.

I wonder whether Patrick, now an adult aged 30, thinks about how different Giant Steps is from when he started attending as a small, confused boy, aged 5. I have no doubt that Giant Steps has made a huge difference to his life and that of our family.

Giant Steps has grown in quantity and quality. It did not just happen. Many wonderful people have made it happen – parents, staff, donors, Government and the community.

There have been difficult times but Patrick has enjoyed working with so many fantastic staff. He now loves working at the Vital Paper Factory, going to Stockyard Community Farm, doing jobs with Keith, Annika, Pauline and others. The original goal was to help students achieve their potential. It will never finish but the progress has far exceeded what anyone could have dreamed of.

None of us would choose to have a child with a disability. However, Giant Steps has brought us in touch with so many wonderful staff, supporters, other parents and their children.

Patrick now lives in a SILC home with two of the other original students. Who would have thought that would be possible?

When Giant Steps started, the Autism Association of NSW (now called Aspect), was 25 years old. Rob Llewelyn-Jones wanted to establish a school that would continue to innovate and improve for at least 25 years. His wish has been achieved far beyond what we hoped for.

Autism was a little understood disability. We now live in a world with the NDIS and Giant Steps continues to lead in developing and delivering world class services. COVID-19 stopped much of the world but it hasn’t stopped Giant Steps.

Most importantly, the foundation has been established for growth and improvement to continue for the next 25 years. Patrick will be 55 and I’ll be 93. If we’re still around, we’ll be “seniors” and I’m confident that looking back in 25 years’ time, we’ll have seen Giant Steps go from strength to strength, mainly because of the efforts of staff, parents and donors who will be different yet the same.

Steve Anthony

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MELBOURNE

I am a writer. I write stories for a living, but Raf’s story is one I never expected to write. When I write I create a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The beginning of Raf’s story was clear and painful. A premature birth, a baby that refused to feed, that cried incessantly, that never smiled or made eye contact. The complete opposite in every way to Raf’s big brother Cassidy.

I was lost. There were no recognizable paths away from this beginning. My whole life and reality had turned in the opposite direction.  I was in deep mourning for the life I should be having and had absolutely no clue how to go forward in the life I was having.

Ahead of us there were paths. Some were filled with well-meaning paediatricians, specialists, and therapists. Their prognoses were dire, their eyes filled with sympathy, their reports a swirl of incomprehensible words that I could barely read for the terror and grief they provoked. Other paths were bathed in technicolour hues of hope. We desperately headed down these paths – ‘change his diet’, ‘put vials in his socks’, ‘spend six hours a day moving his arms and legs in opposite directions’ (there is no one more vulnerable to the charlatans peddling cures than the parents of a child with autism).

As Raf grew into a small boy with a big smile and an even bigger heart, we continued to search for the right path for Raf and for us as a family. We tried different kinders and schools but Raf got lost in a big classroom, easily forgotten, his abilities underestimated. He was non-verbal but he’d become so expressive. He was physically challenged but resilient and strong. He was quiet and undemanding but quick to learn if you had the time and patience.

Two and half years ago we finally found the middle of Raf’s story. We found a small school called Giant Steps that respected and understood every child in their care as unique and worthy.  A school that did have time and patience.  A school that valued safety, affection and individual learning. A school that embraced both Raf, and us as a family, and said “we see him”. The middle of our story is now a happy boy who gets out of our car every school day eager to learn and embrace all that life offers.

In a world where children like Raf are often disregarded, misunderstood and derided, Giant Steps is not only an incredible school but a shining template for how, as a society, we must learn to regard, understand and celebrate children for who they are, not who they are not.

Elise McCredie

25 YEARS OF FUNDRAISING

We would like to acknowledge our wonderful community of supporters who have sponsored and attended hundreds of fundraising events over the last 25 years. Although there are currently no fundraising events being held due to Covid-19, we look forward to seeing you soon. With your help, we have come such a long way, achieving extraordinary things for our students and their families.

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25 REASONS TO CELEBRATE

Giving is not just about making a donation, it’s about making a difference.

Join us in celebrating 25 years of Giant Steps by donating $25, $250$2,500 or $25,000 in honour of our anniversary.

THANKS FOR GIVING SO GENEROUSLY

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NEWS

We look forward to hosting a number of annual fundraising events later this year, pending Government advice. New dates are listed below, mark them in your calendar.
In the meantime, stay connected, stay home and join our Virtual Trivia event. You can play anywhere, anytime!
Click here for further details.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sydney

Giant Dinner

Saturday 29 August

Movie Night – The Extraordinary

Wednesday 2 September

Annual Golf Day

Thursday 10 September

Giant Steps High Tea

Saturday 17 October

Sailing Regatta

Friday 30 October

Stair Climb

Sunday 1 November

Silver Anniversary Charity Ball

Saturday 7 November

16th Annual Bike Ride

Friday 20 – Sunday 22 November

Melbourne

Trivia Night

Saturday 1 August

Giant Dinner

Saturday 29 August

Breakfast Fundraiser

Thursday 3 September

Stair Climb

Sunday 11 October

Giant Steps Social

Saturday 24 October

16th Annual Bike Ride

Friday 20 – Sunday 22 November

Please note all event dates are subject to change due to Covid-19 restricitons.

SUPPORT OUR WORK

To make a tax deductible donation and support our work please click here.

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