Celebrating IDPWD with an Abilities Exhibition

For ten years, YWCA in Toowoomba has proudly run its person-centred Y Ability program, supporting people living with disability with personal supports, community access, and activities.

On December 3, International Day of People with Disability, the Y Ability program held the inaugural Abilities Exhibition in Toowoomba. This exhibition showcased the creative talents of our clients and other people with disability in the greater Toowoomba region – encouraging them to recognise and celebrate their own talents and abilities.

In a world that has often dismissed the talents of people with disability with “No you can’t”, this exhibition was their moment to say “Yes I can”.

We began the evening with a traditional Welcome to Country, spoken by elder Adrian Beattie of the Western Wakka Wakka people. Sharon Foreman, a local psychologist living with a disability, delivered the opening address.

“I’ve struggled with how society sees people with disability, which a lot of people in this room can relate to,” said Ms Foreman. “The fact that society looks at our limitations rather than what we’re capable of. It’s fantastic when organisations like YWCA holds exhibitions like tonight, where we focus on people’s abilities rather than limitations.”

While many clients chose to submit physical artworks, others chose to display their talents in person on the night.  One client, Phillip, chose to display his passion for public speaking with a speech he had written himself. Two others teamed up to run a nail decorating table for all the exhibition attendees!

The evening saw over 60 people enjoy watching various performances, including the very first public performance of the Y Ability house band – Loud Play. The band has members on drums, bass guitar, ukuleles and lead singing, all playing together to deliver a great performance! Many hours of rehearsals went into this performance and the pride felt by everybody present was palpable.

A particular highlight was the large canvas artwork created by a group of regular Y Ability clients.

When asked what inspired their artworks, they told us:

  • This work represents a grazers anguish in drought. Most good rain is followed by a rainbow, and this signifies the end of a rough decade for any farmer in Queensland.
  • There’s a place in my mind, where I’m in full control. This work represents a place where my imagination is enabled, and I’m in charge of the outcome. There are no barriers in this world.
  • I’ve always found peace in nature and wildlife. The wolf depicts a creature that is strong and independent but always finds its way back to the pack.  There is a melodic characteristic to the wolf’s howl and music is everything to the artist.
  • This work inspired by the life of Captain Jack Sparrow, a life of adventure travelling the world in search of riches. Friends, family, gaming and music in the treasure chest give me the strength to sail any ocean.

Perhaps the most notable part of the evening was, quite simply, the presence of everybody who came along. Family, friends and loved ones all came to the exhibition to show support.  This coming together of community displayed to the clients just how many people do care about them, and were willing to be there for this important day in their lives.

Kylie Elisaia, Regional Manager – Queensland for YWCA Australia, says “We have to thank everyone who attended and made this exhibition such a success. But most of all, we have to thank all those who shared their creative talents with the community as it takes a lot of bravery and vulnerability to share as you have!”

We hope that the Abilities Exhibition will become a regular event in Toowoomba – keep an eye out on International Day of People with Disability in 2020!

YWCA Australia wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, live and play and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise First Nations people as the custodians of the lands, seas and skies, with more than 60,000 years of wisdom, connection and relationship in caring for Country.

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