As a member of Friends of Mt Colah FOMC I see how important it is to support other community groups. I felt it pertinent to give recognition and sincere thanks to a group who have given so much to our people with special needs – NARA – Northern Area Recreation Association.
The NARA volunteers who often have special needs children themselves, realised the great need for entertainment and sport for special needs people which inspired them to do something about it.
The volunteers, in particular Brien and Janice Mendham, along with Sue and John Garland, have provided a quarterly disco for the past 30 years at Lindfield Uniting church.
Not only have NARA volunteers worked to create a wonderful disco but also organised cricket and soccer for the disabled, which also ran for 30 years.
The games were played at Mt Ku-ring-gai and surrounding suburbs. The Sambrook family from Mt Colah, Max Palmer, Arpin (Eddie Das), Sue Sinclair and Rick Jones from Asquith plus many others contributed a great deal to the success of these sports.
My son Mark who is physically, intellectually and visually impaired loved the disco and showed so much excitement when I opened the letter addressed to him informing him of the up and coming NARA disco. He would look forward to this amazing night where he could get together with his peers, let his hair down and dance the night away.
In the car on our way home, Mark would tell me with great enthusiasm how he danced with a girl, ate a delicious supper and used the toilet on his own. This was a one-off chance for him to have independence which he so enjoyed, and was a big break from his usual one-on-one care.
Brien ran the disco booming out a great repertoire of music along with magical lighting effects. The variety and spectacular themes, varied from Christmas, Easter, St Patrick’s day, you name it! A beautiful supper prepared by the ladies Janice, Sue and their children helped.
Unfortunately as time went on, numbers attending dwindled, as circumstances, and accommodation arrangements changed, possibly due to the introduction of group homes, and all this came to an end. The ‘last dance’ was held earlier this year.
On behalf of the FOMC group and thanks to the generosity of the NARA volunteers, the memory of the competition and fun on the sports ground, and the spirit on the dance floor as party revellers danced the night away will live on.