IT'S been a busy 12 months for Ability Links NSW in Muswellbrook and the Upper Hunter, working with local groups and businesses to increase accessibility and promote inclusive spaces.
An initiative of the NSW Government Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), Ability Links provides support for people with a disability to live their best life as valued members of accessible and all-encompassing communities.
Throughout Muswellbrook and the Upper Hunter, Sensory Oasis spaces have been established in libraries and shopping centres with a variety of safe toys and plush areas available to help calm and refocus children in overwhelming environments.
Working in partnership with the Muswellbrook Men's Shed, a sensory board was also erected as part of the Muswellbrook Marketplace children's play area "Kid Space".
And, in a major boost for people using mobility devices, the addition of ramps has increased access across a variety of locations including the Scone Country Women's Association, Muswellbrook Vines Food Pantry and the Murrurundi Vinnies Shop.
Mobility scooter users will also have greater access getting around the community thanks to Upper Hunter Rideshare, a local business transporting scooters at no additional cost as part of a partnership with Ability Links and Local Mobility.
Noise-reducing headphones have been placed around the community, too, in an effort to reduce auditory stimulation for people who experience sensory overload in an effort to provide an inclusive and comfortable environment.
To find out more about the work of Ability Links in communities around the state, visit www.abilitylinksnsw.org.au