The Play Project Therapy Services started by local Kaitlyn Cummins (nee Bourke) has excelled in recent years with 2020 seeing a property purchased to offer retreats and programs to young people with disabilities all year.
The Play Project Therapy Services, which provides support for children and young people with disabilities, was created by Kaitlyn to offer intensive style supports for the whole family given the shortage of health professionals in the country and the challenges for parents trying to access services for their children around work and school commitments.
“We provide specialised school holiday retreats designed to assist children to develop independence with daily living skills, to build confidence and self-esteem and support them with making and keeping friends,” Kaitlyn said.
“We also have a growing number of young people transitioning out of high school but unable to access further education or work due their disability and rural isolation.
“We offer skills development programs that focus on supporting young people to develop the skills they need to move out of home, live independently and find meaningful employment or volunteer work.
The Wahgunyah property the Play Project has purchased is called Quandong, originally built as a country retreat in the 1890’s.
In the late 1990’s it was owned by a lady named Maggie Fitzgibbons who was a famous actress and singer and during her time there she relocated a second home to the property where she would provide accommodation, rehabilitation and support for homeless youth.
Sadly, Ms Fitzgibbons has recently passed away.
“We purchased the property from Des Sheridan, a local retired cattle farmer. We have renovated the main homestead and grounds and hope to provide some of retreats from the property,” Kaitlyn said.
“The property will allow us to offer our retreats and programs year-round. Having the property is ideal because it provides a calming outdoor space in nature that supports the children to feel at their best.
“When a child is feeling their best, we are able to work more effectively to help them achieve their goals so we find we get much better outcomes than we would from traditional therapy approaches.
“Our retreat style intensives allows us to work with the whole person and go back to basics with regards to addressing sleep routines, fussy eating, movement, play, time in nature and the use of technology which helps to form healthy habits which make learning new skills much easier.
“Through our programs we assist parents with education and support around managing anxiety, dealing with challenging behaviours and developing healthy habits in each of 6 key focus areas.”
Prior to COVID-19 the Play Projects school holiday programs would attract more than 100 children and their families to Yarrawonga from all over Victoria.
“We are looking forward to being able to offer these programs to our families in the future,” Kaitlyn said.
“But for now, we are customising some smaller weekend packages for school age children and midweek packages for our young adult clients to help provide some much-needed structure and social engagement during this challenging time.”
If you would like to learn more on the Quandong retreat or the Play Project Therapy Services, visit the plays project website or Facebook or contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0439485500.