Carer Solutions Partner, Sharyn Thomas had three biological children of her own, but knew that her family was not yet complete. Not wanting to go through any more pregnancies, Sharyn and her husband decided to turn to adoption.
Ten years after giving birth to her third child, Sharyn adopted Tanya, a baby girl with Down syndrome. Eighteen months later, they adopted Jake, who also had Down syndrome.
Tanya, now 33 and Jake, 30 have both still live at home with Sharyn and her husband in the gorgeous Victorian township of Gembrook.
Raising two young people with disability opened Sharyn’s eyes up to just how limited activities and opportunities were for young people like Tanya and Jake.
That’s when Sharyn set about creating her own social and craft activity groups. Some 30 years later, Sharyn now runs soap making, card making and sewing classes in her home, where she welcomes other locals with disability.
Every Tuesday, Sharyn does card making with Jake and Tania, and other locals like Janelle, who has made a business out of her card making.
Sharyn explains how Jake and Tanya sell their cards and soap at the local market, with all proceeds going to those less fortunate.
“They have market stalls and the money that they raise from making cards and soap is sent to western Zambia, to support children in school and to pay for formula for orphans.”
One of Jakes favourite activities is the karaoke social group that Sharyn hosts every Monday.
“Karaoke is lots of fun, making friends and I get up and dance.” he explains.
Sharyn says that the group even includes people who are non-verbal, making it a truly all-abilities event.
“It’s seeing the joy they all get out of the various activities that makes all the effort worth it”, Sharyn explains.