Disability service provider Interchange Illawarra has teamed up with accessibility vehicle company Integrity Car Sales & Rentals to not only provide a fun experience to a young Rabbitohs fan with cerebral palsy but many opportunities for other people in the region with a disability.
On Friday, Interchange Illawarra participant Jack Clewley, 19, and his support worker James Brooks travelled to BankWest Stadium in style to watch South Sydney beat the New Zealand Warriors by 40 points to 12.
Both are mad keen Rabbitohs fans and have watched many games together but not as easily as they were able to on Friday.
Until now there have been no locally accessible car sales and rental companies in the Illawarra specific for people with disability. And that has made it difficult for people like Jack to access such transport.
Friday's trip to BankWest Stadium was a first for the region after Integrity expanded its operations into the region. And the business had gone above and beyond to ensure Jack got to his first game since COVID-19 restrictions eased.
Despite being Rabbitohs member for many years Jack and Mr Brookes had missed out on the ballot to win tickets to the game. But the team at Integrity Car Sales & Rentals got in touch with the club, explained the situation and secured some.
Jack's mum Karen Clewley said her son was over the moon.
"He was absolutely rapped he got tickets because he knew James had put his name in the barrel but didn't get pulled out. It was like the biggest surprise ever when he found out he was going. He went crazy. He was laughing and giggling".
Jack said his favourite player was Damien Cook who has sent him an online video message.
Mrs Clewley said it it hadn't been for the new vehicle from Integrity, which is an NDIS provider, Jack would have had to go to the game in a bus or taxi at great expense.
Interchange Illawarra chief executive Jake Pearson said it was great to work with Integrity to make such a trip possible.
"It's a great service that a lot of people with disability in the Illawarra will benefit from," he said.
"Transport has always been a complicated and expensive thing but this new organisation is NDIS registered so Jack's plan can pay for the rental of the vehicle.
"It has given us a cheaper and more accessible option and we think Integrity operating here is going to be a great thing for the Illawarra.
"It is going to give people who need accessible vehicles an opportunity to do things without having to access other more expensive options.
"It is really going to open up more transport alternatives and more economical opportunities and options for people with disabilities who need accessible vehicles to get around".
Mr Pearson said to be able to exercise choice and control and to get involved in the community the way people without disabilities can was a really important thing for many people with a disability.
"I think this is really exciting because the cost of transport has always been so prohibitive for people with disabilities," Mr Pearson said.
Sean McElligott, of Integrity Car Sales & Rentals, said the NDIS registered business had previously serviced the Illawarra but it had been impractical for short term rentals to be delivered out of Sydney.
"So we have recently partnered up with Evan Loates and he is going to have cars based here," he said.
Mr McElligott said he worked with many of Integrity's NDIS clients and people constantly tell him having access to such vehicles for one day is such a life changer because they can get out and do things more easily.
"It means they don't have to be dependent on someone else," he said.
Mr McElligott said it was a great feeling to be in a partnership with Interchange Illawarra that created the kind of joy and excitement he saw from Jack on Friday.
"It is just such a positive thing. I don't think I have ever had a job or a role where I feel so good at the end of the day. Especially when I see somebody like Jack getting so excited about being able do and see his favourite team play," he said.
Interchange Illawarra was established in 1981 and provides individual support, group activities, overnight respite, and focuses on providing flexible, individualised support to people with disability.
Integrity Car Sales and Rentals are based in Sydney and are a registered NDIS provider, providing people with disabilities flexible transport options with over 60 wheelchair accessible cars in their fleet available for hire.
- Drive in movies are about to return to the Illawarra with KidzWish gaining access to the tarmac on the east-west runway at Shellharbour Airport in July
- All the photos from the unauthorised Black Lives Matter protest in Wollongong on Saturday
- Owner of trendy new Sandbar in Huskisson is looking for employees and sees potential to attract many more visitors to the South Coast
- IMB Bank recognised by Forbes as one of Australia's best four banks
- Entries open for 2020 IMB Bank Illawarra Business Awards
- Thousands of dollars handed out in community grants by Stockland Shellharbour
- Kiama founded men's walk, talk and support group wins NSW Men's Health Award and goes national
- Wollongong's most iconic restaurant The Charcoal Tavern reopens soon on the original site in the new 21-storey Signature Wollongong
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
Sign up for our newsletters for the latest news