Community & Philanthropy
Autism Spectrum Australia - Aspect South Coast School
In June 2012, Andrew and Jade's eldest son Callum, was diagnosed with Autisic Disorder at the age of 3.
Having spent the previous two years struggling to understand Callum's challenging behaviour, this diagnosis provided many answers, and something of a 'map' to help Andrew and Jade guide Callum.
Through the ongoing search for information and services to help Callum, Andrew and Jade discovered NSW organisation Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).
Aspect offer a range of services to individuals with spectrum disorders, and their families and carers. They also run a network of specialised Autism Schools. We are so incredibly lucky to have one here in the northern Wollongong suburb of Corrimal, called Aspect South Coast School.
We aim to continue to raise awareness in the community around spectrum disorders. We would be so grateful if you could take an opportunity to look through Aspect's website whenever you have some spare time.
In the event that you are looking to support a worthy cause in our community, please keep Aspect South Coast School in your thoughts. They employ some of the most incredible teachers, therapists and staff. Their patience, and their passion for their little students is second to none. They need our ongoing support, and you can be sure that 100% of donations made to the school, are used by the school for our gorgeous little Wollongong children.
Lift-a-thon for Aspect South Coast School
Lifting 100 Tonnes in One Day
Anyone who knows Andrew, is well aware that he doesn't shy away from a physical challenge, particularly when it also offers the chance to raise awareness or funds for an important cause.
After attempting a stair climb challenge in Wollongong (which frankly, he did very well at), Andrew was lamenting to Jade over what he considered to be a poor result. Jade was quick to remind him that stair climbs, running, cycling, all those 'fundraiser' activities are very well suited to...ahhhh...lean people...a slight build, rather than Andrew's burly, robust frame. Not thinking straight, obviously, she suggested that his build lends itself more to, say, a lift-a-thon!
The next morning over breakfast...
Andrew: 'So, I've been thinking about this Lift-a-thon...'.
After much planning, we announced that Andrew had set himself a challenge to lift 100 tonnes in one day, using a combination of lifts in varying weight combinations, and that 100% of donations to the cause would go directly to Aspect South Coast School.
With a huge amount of support from our friends at Crossfit Wollongong, Andrew did 100 rounds of 4 x deadlifts, 4 x squats and 4 x bench press, with each round lifted, exactly 1 tonne.
We raised nearly $13,000 for our little school, and I hope a little more awareness for our friends navigating life with Autism.
You can watch how Andrew did each round here:
Luke's Place - The Illawarra's first inclusive community playground
Touched By Olivia Foundation
In late 2012, a very close family friend asked Jade if she would be interested in becoming involved in a project for the local community, that would see an all abilities playground built in Corrimal Memorial Park. It is a playground for ALL children, regardless of ability, and promotes inclusive play. It will be built so as to accommodate the very special needs of children with physical disabilities (mobility, hearing and visual impairments), and neurological disorders (such as spectrum disorders).
Working in partnership, the Touched by Olivia Foundation and Wollongong City Council went about planning this amazing playground, and community consultation began.
Although Wollongong City Council committed $125,000 to the project, the community needed to raise at least another $125,000 to get the project off the ground.
Sean and Rita Rapley, inspired by their son Luke, teamed up with Jade and Andrew (inspired by Callum), and the Facebook group 'Friends of Luke's Place - Illawarra's Inclusive Playspace' was born.
Jade took on the fundraising and awareness campaign, which became known as The Butterfly Ball. An exciting, black tie, gala event held at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach on 16 March 2013. Hosted by Playschool favourite, and Touched by Olivia Foundation Ambassador Jay Laga'aia, the event raised $40,000 for the Playground.
With many amazing sponsors onboard, and all fundraising for our local playground completed, construction began in February 2014.
In only a couple of months, the playground was complete, and open to the public. Have a look at this article in the Illawarra Mercury, and all those excited little faces having a fabulous time!
The Playground has been incredibly popular since the day it opened, bringing a steady flow of new families to the Corrimal business district, so that their children can experience play in an environment that is so gentle, family friendly, and most importantly, all inclusive.
If you'd like to have a look at the brilliant work the Touched by Olivia Foundation does for inclusive play, please take a moment to visit their website.
Shamrocks Rugby Union Club
Moving to Wollongong (Woonona) in 2009, one of the first things Andrew did, was find himself a Rugby Club. Even since moving to West Wollongong in 2011, Andrew has maintained an involvement with the Shamrocks, of note, playing front row in first grade for three seasons, and playing the role of honorary Auditor for his club.
Back in 2015 however, during pre-season training, Andrew tore his ACL which took him out for the season. It didn't stop him from volunteering to coach though, such is his love for his club.
Working his way back to match fit again, he was back on the field the following season, albeit in a part time capacity in recognition of his protesting body.
Andrew intends on playing as long as his body will allow him. Clearly Jade is totally thrilled by this.