By Ellen Morgan
Published: Friday, February 19, 2021
Here in South Australia, there’s no shortage of community organisations doing incredible things for our communities. Supporting these organisations is what RAA's Grassroots Giving program is all about.
Our latest recipient is no exception. Novita is one of SA’s largest disability service providors, serving the community since 1939. Their Wheelienet program received $5000 through Grassroots Giving to purchase new wheelchairs – much-needed assets to keep the program in operation.
Wheelienet aims to create awareness and educate people about the challenges of navigating life in a wheelchair.
Visiting school groups and businesses, the Wheelienet program gives participants the opportunity to undertake a variety of activities, in a wheelchair – from wheelchair basketball to a tour (on wheels) of their school or business.
“Participants get a first-hand experience of what it’s like to rely on a wheelchair for day-to-day mobility and for recreational activities like sports,” says Novita’s Wheelienet coordinator Michael Neroni.
“Wheelienet is for all ages, from pre-schoolers to adults. It’s about promoting positive attitudes and community inclusion, preventing injuries, [encouraging] safe driving habits and highlighting the dangers of drugs and alcohol.”
“While it delivers a serious message about the challenges faced by people living with disability, Wheelienet also brings people together for some fun,” says Novita’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Ward.
“It’s suitable for a range of people – from school classes to corporate office teams to community groups.
“The support of organisations such as RAA ensures Wheelienet remains viable, with up-to-date wheelchairs and equipment, so we can deliver the program to more South Australians.”
After being involved in Wheelienet for the past 3 years, Michael Neroni says the new equipment is an exciting improvement.
“The new wheelchairs have a number of features fitted that are not present on the older chairs. [With the new wheelchairs] I can deliver a much better learning experience to participants and suit a broader range of learning outcomes,” he says.
Novita is also hoping to use the chairs for more initiatives like wheelchair AFL in future, too.
Wheelienet aside, Novita offers a wide range of evidence-based therapies, Assistive Technology and equipment to kids, young people and adults living with disability.
“We support more than 4300 clients and their families, with our 800 professional staff delivering those services from hubs throughout Adelaide, regional South Australia and Broken Hill,” says Greg.
“Our services include allied health therapies, our Assistive Technology and equipment unit Novitatech, accommodation services, and great community programs like Wheelienet.”
RAA General Manager of Community and Corporate Affairs Emily Perry says supporting organisations like Novita is precisely the reason the Grassroots Giving program exists.
“Supporting South Australian businesses like Novita to deliver programs like Wheelienet that have such a positive impact in our community, is incredibly important to us at RAA,” she says.
“Grassroots Giving is all about providing a helping hand to organisations or groups making a difference in SA.
“Like RAA, Novita is dedicated to keeping their clients and community moving with the same passion we do for our members. It is for this reason we are so very proud to be involved.
“We’re also very proud to have the Wheelienet basketball games run at our Street Smart High events.
“A few of our team members loved giving wheelchair basketball a try. We can’t wait to see the initiative flourish and be experienced by other South Aussies.”
Interested in the program, or want to give Wheelienet a go? You can contact Novita for more information.
If your community has an initiative that could use some support, our Grassroots Giving grants open again for applications on 15 March. Head to the website for more information and to apply.