Connect and Grow Magazine Edition 4 - December 2023
Let's talk about dating and relationships....
When was the last time you decided to date, and how successful was it for you?
Dating, in general, can be filled with a multitude of challenges; add in a disability, whether it be physical or cognitive, brings with it even more challenges. Online dating options are everywhere and so easy for someone to sign up, start speaking with someone and then meet them. The risks of things going wrong are present for everyone, possibly more for those with a disability.
This year, I came across Ebony on social media and was interested in her work in the NDIS sector. I was interested in learning about Date-Ability and how it worked out for the participants.
When Connect and Grow magazine was launched, it was an excellent opportunity to meet with Ebony and learn more. Those meetings, via team video and then in person, led to this article.
I interviewed Ebony, and she shared this with me about herself and Date-Ability, especially since the business is now an NDIS Registered Provider, which is exciting for Ebony, Cheryl and the people with an NDIS plan.
Ebony has so much passion for what she does, and this shined through during the time we spent together.
Meet Ebony and Cheryl, two amazing women!
In 2020, Ebony Swan was at a local park with her child. She happened to meet Cheryl Drury at the same park, and they got to talking about the disability sector, NDIS and more.
Cheryl, having founded First Step Solutions in 2019, offered Ebony a job, and so began the journey of two women passionate about making a difference and encouraging people with a disability to follow their dreams, understand their finances and develop skills that they can use in friendship-building, social connection, and even dating in a safe space.
Date-Ability was born and has grown into something that is now Australia-wide.
Before further exploring Date-Ability and First Step Solutions, let's share some of Ebony's background.
Ebony has 15 years of experience in disability and mental health; she has also worked in SIL and sees how people with a disability experienced life are treated. Everyone, no matter who they are, deserves to be treated with respect and, where possible, encouraged to build capacity in their life that gives them choice and control.
Ebony's belief is:
" Everyone has the right to be loved and feel love in a way that brings them joy!"
This is such a powerful statement, and Ebony's passion when she says this is evident.
When it comes to organising the Date-Ability events, Ebony's passion for working with people with disabilities shows through.
Ebony shared with me that Date-Ability started after Ebony and Cheryl noticed through the Financial Literacy program that many people with a disability were taken advantage of when they were attempting to date, especially with online dating.
I asked Ebony to share how a person with a disability becomes involved in Date-Ability.
The program Date-Ability is a 12-week program; Ebony and the team do a risk assessment as part of their criteria and check with their NDIS Plan. It is available face-to-face and online for small groups. As part of their dedication to being inclusive of everyone, Ebony and the team can work one-on-one with people who are considered high-risk.
Each person who participates in the program and the events is fully supported to learn skills in dating and building friendships, which may turn into relationships
" We aim to include everyone in some capacity."
There is a team of people who have been consulted with the development of Date-Ability; these include:
By having input from other professionals, the program was able to cover all aspects of dating and building relationships.
All relationships start with the one we have with ourselves; this program also assists with that.
In addition to skills building as part of Date-Ability, Ebony and Cheryl also work with people with an NDIS plan on their capacity-building skills in areas such as:
· Financial budgeting
· Self-care and expressing who they are in a safe space.
Combine Date-Ability and First Step solutions together, and those with an NDIS plan can have healthy relationships with themselves and others, be part of society in a way that is safe for them, and who knows, they may also fall in love.
Each person who has engaged in the services that Cheryl and Ebony are offering has been able to connect with other people and increase their confidence that they may not have been able to without their programs and services.
Every person deserves to be happy and to live a quality life, whatever that may look like for them, appreciating and honouring each person’s skills and personality.
You can see in these photos how much fun everyone is having.
Everyone receives a certificate at the end of the program.
If these services interest you, or maybe they are perfect for a family member or friend, why not reach out today?
You can visit their website: First Steps Solutions
Written by Jacqui Grant
You can purchase the eMagazine here: Connect and Grow Magazine December 2023
(C) 2023 Connect and Grow Magazine Edition 4 - December 2023
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