There’s very little that’s more empowering than being able to work on something you love, earn money from it and then put those savings towards a great time. And that’s exactly what’s happening at Challenge Disability Services in Warialda, where Day Program clients are achieving goals, learning practical skills and boosting their self-esteem through work in the community.

Building skills and community ties

Anyone who’s attended the Warialda Day Program would tell you the clients work hard on their creative endeavours for one very big outcome: to save enough for an amazing excursion.

So after their time spent sewing reusable shopping bags and selling them to residents – a savvy and eco-conscious initiative after the local supermarket stopped providing plastic bags – clients at Warialda Day Program had to come up with a new idea. After all, their reusable-bag idea had funded their recent trip to Coffs Harbour, and they wanted their next project to be even bigger and better!

“We were looking for a new way to make some money and save enough for another excursion,” says Angela Turner, Senior Support Worker at Warialda Day Program. “One of our clients, Alysha, came up with the idea of doing a dog wash.”

It was a simple idea that formed from a sincere love of animals. “The dog wash was an idea where we could make money while being able to play with the puppies,” Alysha says. “We can go on fun trips away with friends and do things I have never been able to do.”

With the best ideas often being the simplest, it was no surprise when the dog wash became a huge hit with the whole Warialda community.

“The experience provided our clients with a wonderful opportunity to be resourceful,” Angela says. “Together, they worked as a team to find ways to save money, all while getting some much-needed and enjoyable puppy therapy.”

Funding an exciting trip to Dubbo

The project was so successful that just a few months after it began, the Day Program had earned enough to send clients on a four-day adventure through Dubbo – visiting sites like the Old Dubbo Gaol, Wellington Caves, the Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens and of course the famous Western Plains Zoo.

“Many of our clients had not had the opportunity to go away on holidays and experience everything that a trip away offers,” Angela says. “Our clients particularly enjoyed the Dubbo Zoo – seeing all the animals, the social bonding and making memories and friendships together.”

Big plans for 2020 and beyond

Off the back of their popular dog-washing and reusable-bag businesses, Angela says everyone is focused on their next big excursion.

“All money made from the dog wash is deposited into the Warialda Challenge Support Fund. Once it reaches our next goal amount, it will allow all involved clients to attend another excursion in 2020.

“While we haven’t yet mutually agreed on a destination, a few places that have been suggested include Lighting Ridge, Port Macquarie, the Gold Coast and Sydney.”

Come on down to the Warialda dog wash!

The dog wash is still up and running, so if you’d like to join in on the fun while getting your pooch cleaned then call 0458 021 045 to make an appointment. Dog washes take place on Wednesday afternoon at the Challenge Community Services office in Warialda (2/2 Hall Street) and cost $10 for small dogs, $15 for medium dogs and $20 for large dogs. There’s even a handy pick-up and drop-off service for an extra $5 (out-of-town collections are $10).

“The success from our dog wash has been great for our clients so far,” Angela says. “It is great to see the local community’s support, especially our local IGA which generously donated an amazing hamper of dog-washing products to kick-start the little project.

“The experience has been so enjoyable for our clients. The process of being able to earn money, save it and then work towards a reward has really boosted their self-esteem and community spirit.”

To find out more about Day Programs like Warialda or the wide range of disability services provided by Challenge email: disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au.