New programs build connections for 16-20s

Gateways participant Andrew is excited to join the new Bridges program. (Photo supplied)

Alana Richards

Starting in August, Gateways Support Services is launching two new recreation groups to help youths transition into adult programs.

The new Bridges program caters for people aged 16-20 years with higher support needs, working with families to offer activities of interest to the group.

A second group, Connections, is geared towards more independent young people (aged 16-20) who will have input in choosing their favourite activities as the program grows.

Andrew from Keilor East found that when he turned 18, he was keen to participate in supported recreation groups but his interests didn’t match typical adult programs.

So when he and his family heard about the new programs, he was excited to get on board.

“I found that when Andrew turned 18, all the activities he liked to do weren’t offered anymore as he was too old, but going for a meal and drink at the pub is not something he was interested in at that stage,” Andrew’s mum, Joanne says.

“The Bridges program is perfect to fill the gap between youth and adult services.”

Joanne says the program will help Andrew, who was previously an active youth group goer, to make a smoother transition into adulthood.

“Bridges will help make the transition from youth to adult programs easier by providing activities that Andrew relates to and is actually interested in,” she says.

“Through the programs, I’m hoping for Andrew to be more social with his peers and to engage in activities in his community.”

Gateways Support Services recreation co-ordinator, Mandy, says these new programs were developed following feedback from families about what would work best for their children.

The groups are designed not only to meet the individual goals of participants’ NDIS plans, but to help the young people form strong friendships with their peers and the self-confidence to try new things.

“Many parents expressed concern around this transitionary period between youth and adulthood, where their children may not be ready to enter the open age group and wish to be among other people their own age with similar interests,” Mandy says.

“Bridges and Connections will meet these needs, with participants supported in building their independence skills while they are making friends and having a great time.”

Contact Gateways Support Services to register your interest or find out more about the Bridges and Connections groups. Inquiries: 9396 1111, email or visit