January 19, 2012 saw Hunter Connect make history on Nobbys Beach Newcastle, as it hosted the first ever Australian Surfers For Autism event, based on the American model.
Volunteers under the guidance of Newcastle Surf School took children with Autism and other abilities into the water and assisted them to catch a wave and surf for the very first time. This event saw 200 children and over 540 families converge on Nobbys Beach and enjoy an oasis of inclusion, acceptance and total stoke. When provided a judgment-free zone, these special athletes thrive in ways previously unimaginable. Such is the power of the ocean; such is the power of the Surfers for Autism and Hunter Connect missions. Since then Hunter Connect has attempted to run the Surf event annually. This year Hunter Connect was unable to host this event. On hearing this, the awesome team at Newcastle Surf School took it upon themselves to organise a lower scale surf event, that will be held on March 25 at Nobbys Beach.
Hunter Connect began as a few parents attending a local playgroup soon turned into a registered not for profit organisation supporting over 420 families in the Port Stephens, Newcastle and surrounding areas. Founders Sam and Jackie Hays along with local mum Rhonda Bonacorrso Fielding began meeting regularly to share their trials and tribulations of parenting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder along with raising siblings that weren’t left out due to the demands associated with a brother or sister with autism. This term Hunter Connect joined up with the amazing Aimee Angelique and Gavin Hodges from Medowie Yoga to run an afternoon Yoga class for children on the spectrum as well as their siblings. This 45-minute class, that usually runs over an hour due to the level of genuine engagement that both Aimee and Gavin have with the children. For this program to keep going we need $1900 a term to cover venue hire, insurances and class costs. For parents who regularly spend money on medical and therapeutic expenses, we want to be able to offer a program that is inclusive for the whole family without parents reaching into their pocket.To help please contact Hunter Connect via email firstname.lastname@example.org. With April being the month of Autism awareness or “Go Blue for Autism” as its commonly known. Hunter Connect will go blue on April 5 when we officially open our Raymond Terrace Hunter Connect Support group.