Matthew Yong attends Unisson’s St Ives Community Access Centre four days a week, where he’s been exploring his interests, trying new activities and developing friendships.
The St Ives Centre, which recently celebrated 10 years of supporting people with an intellectual, mental and/or physical disability, is a hub for clients to participate in regular, centre-based activities, and a base from which to access their local community for regular activities and local events that meet their individual interests.
Matthew is a happy, sociable and gentle man who shows great compassion and empathy towards others.
“Matthew has a sweet nature,” says Hanna Krawczyk, Team Leader, Community Services, St Ives. “He always says thank you and helps with the preparations for outings and he’s highly attuned to the feelings of others and will alert a staff member if ever someone is upset.”
This sensitivity to others and his surroundings can sometimes trigger anxiety, but with encouragement, Matthew has been exploring activities that connect with his love of art, dance, nature and helping others – all of which have been proven to reduce stress and promote health and emotional well-being.
Matthew has been exploring activities that connect with his love of art, dance, nature and helping others – all of which have been proven to reduce stress and promote health and emotional well-being.
Matthew regularly spends time participating in the nature-based group activities that he loves; gardening, visiting botanic gardens, bushwalking and having picnics and BBQs at nearby national parks.
A talented dancer, Matthew takes part in weekly classes.
“Dancing makes me happy,” says Matthew. “I like doing dancing lessons and I like the songs I dance to.”
Matthew also attends Unisson’s ceramic studio where he’s developed new skills and a love of art and gains great satisfaction from the opportunity to make gifts for others. He also enjoys spending time with people who have similar interests, who have become new friends. After the class, the group visits a local coffee shop, another of his favourite activities.
"It makes me feel good, because I get to make things for people," says Matthew.
Matthew’s altruistic nature has also found expression in “helping people” with his participation in serving his local community as part of a small group who, with support from Unisson’s Supported Independent Living service, makes regular Meals on Wheels deliveries.
This voluntary community service is a win for both the members of Matthew’s local community who depend on the service, and the volunteers – with both groups enjoying the regular social interaction.
The benefits of acts of kindness on a person’s emotional well-being are well documented. For people with disability, who are more often the recipients of support, the benefits of volunteering are especially powerful, by enabling opportunities to experience the satisfaction of being the provider of a valued service that benefits others.
With support from Unisson, Matthew has widened his opportunities to give expression to his kindness and creativity.
Matthew looks forward to regularly spending time engaged in the activities he loves, sharing these positive experiences with others and building friendships with people who have similar interests.