Podcast 20 features an extraordinary group of people who have just started meeting regularly to support each other through challenges and troubles that most would find impossible.
This group of a dozen or more grandparents are raising their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The parents of these kids have deserted them for a range of reasons and these grandparents – the parents of the parents are the safety net.
Karen Thomas and Vanessa Bragg from PlayAbility in Bega have bought these families together. PlayAbility provides early intervention services for families who have young children with a disability or developmental delay.
You are about to meet people that carry an interesting range of emotions – sadness and despair, mixed with joy, humour, and love.
What stood out to me as I listened to these stories is that these people walk among us, carrying the most heartbreaking experiences, stories that have gone unheard, told by people who haven’t been recognised or supported – until now.
I’ve beeped out the names of the kids to respect their privacy.
Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro got a chance to goof off today (May 26) with the official opening of Stage 1 of the Cooma Lions Park upgrade.
Mr Barilaro left talk of nuclear power, council amalgamations, and the sale of Snowy Hydro behind as he tested the park’s new flying fox with Snowy Monaro Administrator, Dean Lynch.
The redeveloped Cooma Lions Park at Yallakool Road was officially opened today. There's a leash free dog area, improved seating and an adventure playground fitted out with a flying fox! Here is our Administrator Dean Lynch and Deputy Premier John Barilaro trying the flying fox.
The work is the first step of a big vision for the park on Yallakool Road, just north of the Cooma CBD.
Lions Club members and Snowy Monaro Regional Council have got the job done ready for winter; stage 1 includes landscaping, road and parking area improvements, fencing of a ‘leash free’ area for dogs, installation of a flying fox, and most importantly new playground equipment.
Cooma Lions say the upgrade is already popular with local families and no doubt will pull a crowd over the busy winter months.
An extraordinary 1,500 volunteer hours have gone into the project which has been looked after by Lions Club Project Manager Chris Reeks and Construction Manager John Britton.
Chris says, “Our ongoing aim is to bring the park into the 21st Century and provide an up-to-date fun and recreational facility.”
The dream of the club is to develop the site into an adventure playground, future works are likely to include additional car parking, construction of the next section of the Cooma North to Murrumbidgee walking/cycle path, as well as refurbishment and upgrade of the existing BMX circuit.
The club is also open to community suggestions for further upgrades.
Cooma Lions has a long association with the park having originally owned the site and carrying out the initial development before handing it over to Council to manage and maintain in 1986.
These works have been made possible by a grant under the NSW Government’s ClubGRANTS scheme.
*Content contributions from Cooma Lions and Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Years ago when my children were small and I was very depressed, a friend arrived on my doorstep with a homemade meal.
I had gone from an energetic high to a motionless low.
I always managed to look after my children but everything took so much effort and time.
My friend was concerned about me, she had a sense I wasn’t well in the way friends know. She had no idea of or experience with what I was going through but thought a home cooked meal would be useful.
She was so right.
The fact she offered no advice and was honest about not knowing what I was going through, was such a relief from the well-meaning but ill-informed advice that I had been receiving from other people.
She made me feel so cared for – and what a relief to know that I could feed my family that night without worrying about what I was going to cook.
It’s a gesture that touched me and one I have tried to pass on; seeing someone in need and trying to think of something practical to do for them.
It can be just sitting with a person, folding laundry, bringing in firewood, taking children to school, feeding a pet, or going to the shops.
We don’t need to understand fully what someone is going through in order to help them.
When someone is ill it can be hard to know what sort of assistance is needed and even hard for the person who is unwell to know. So if you want to help – start with the simple stuff.
For me, when I was sick I felt I was so isolated, so alone, like no one understood.
When I received that home cooked meal all of a sudden I was not forgotten or alone, I was given strength to get through another day, a day closer to wellness.
During Mental Health Month there is much emphasis on what the individual can do to maintain their own mental health.
The importance of diet, plenty of exercise, being connected to the community, positive ways of thinking, coping with a stressful life by using meditation, mindfulness, cognitive behaviour therapy – all are seen as important parts to promoting mental health.
I am adding something new, an idea from author and philosopher Shannon L Alder:
“When the “I” is replaced by “We” illness becomes wellness.”
We all have the potential to make such a difference in someone’s life, and all it can take is a small gesture like a delivered homemade meal…or writing an article and sharing your experience.
Don’t be afraid to be the ‘we’ Shannon Alder talks about.
Leah Milston was diagnosed as being Bipolar over 40 years ago.
She says she spent the first 16 years living in denial, the next 16 she describes as ‘reluctant’ but for the last 9 years Leah has embraced the way she is wired.
So much so Leah is now a voluntary speaker for Beyondblue and was previously a voluntary rural ambassador for Black Dog Institute (2007-2010) and regularly writes articles and speaks on radio about mental health issues.
Since 2005 Leah has been the owner, manager and personality behind Milston’s Past and Present in Mogo. The shop has enough order and enough chaos and quirkiness (just like it’s owner) to make it a wonderful place to browse.