Kristy’s favourite days of the week are Tuesday and Friday. On these days, with the support of Challenge Community Services, Kristy is able to utilise her NDIS plan to express her creativity during art and film-making classes at Wild Learning.

Located in Cessnock, Wild Learning is as welcoming as the name suggests. “It’s a colourful, creative and inclusive space,” says Emmie Hallett, owner of Wild Learning, which offers classes as diverse as yoga, Zumba, meditation, sewing and art.

“People come here to learn art and music but also how to interact” she adds. “There’s a focus on developing people’s capacity to do more of what they love.”

Gaining confidence through expression

Some Wild Learning programs are open to all, while others are catered specifically to people with disability. Kristy who is in her late 30s and has an intellectual disability, has gained confidence and expressive language skills since she started her program.

“Kristy is more able to explain her needs,” says Lisa, a Senior Support Worker at Challenge, adding that she’s seen positive changes since Kristy started attending Wild Learning. “She shows pride in the artwork she creates and particularly enjoys having a video or photo taken at the end of the session.” 

These photos are used by Wild Learning to connect clients with their family, friends and the wider community through the contemporary lens of social media. “We share the pictures on Instagram and the Friday Film Makers will launch their film on YouTube,” Emmie says. “Doing this shows pride and respect for people’s work.”

“Kristy has a beautiful heart,” says Lisa. “She really looks forward to attending Wild Learning and on days when it is movement and music, Kristy is keen to contribute her own dance moves – she loves ABBA!”

Challenge and Wild Learning: A perfect partnership

Wild Learning has become a valuable community connection for Challenge Community Services. “It is critical for us to be able to provide activities and experiences that allow our clients to master new skills,” says Lisa. “The empowerment that clients feel, in a safe and inclusive environment like Wild Learning, is immeasurable.”

The partnership between Challenge and Wild Learning allows Kristy to enjoy creative activities, learn new skills and always have something to look forward to.

“I like it here,” Kristy says when asked what she enjoys about going to Wild Learning. To make sure that her point has been heard, she adds a single, strong word: “Definitely.”

For information about Assistance with Social and Community Participation funding, phone 1800 679 129 or email disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au.

To learn about Wild Learning visit: https://www.wildlearning.com.au/.