Gathered at the Tamworth Town Hall, these parents would do anything to stop their children with disabilities going into institutionalised care.

That group is today called Challenge, one of the largest community support services in the state.

“The government had already told them they could put their kids in an institution and get on with their lives, but they refused to do that,” Challenge chief executive Barry Murphy said.

“They decided to start their own school in one of the pavilions at the showground, the teacher was the bus driver and first aid officer - just about everything.”

Eventually they started an activity therapy centre, with 60 to 80 people with disabilities sorting seeds or stuffing envelopes for businesses in town.

Some could do thousands a day, others might just manage three – but everybody was learning something.

Today, Challenge provides employment opportunities to people with disabilities across a number of industries, foster care to more than 500 children and encourages independence.

Within themselves a lot of the employees feel more valuable earning a wage Mr Murphy said.

“I take my hat off to our business managers because they pour so much effort into these people,” he said.

“People with disabilities don’t take a pill every morning, they are who they are.

“A lot of their life revolves around work and the social aspect, they’re great employees and they’re very loyal.”

Story and photo from The Northern Daily Leader, 17 October 2018