09/12/2010 - 00:00

Finding funds to deliver dreams

09/12/2010 - 00:00

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DISABILITY employment organisation Westcare Industries hosted its annual breakfast to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability this week.

DISABILITY employment organisation Westcare Industries hosted its annual breakfast to celebrate International Day of People with a Disability this week.

For the second successive year, Westcare collaborated with innovative engineering organisation Dreamfit Foundation, a not for-profit-organisation that brings together industry, academia, government and community to fulfil dreams and overcome the challenges and frustrations of people with disabilities.

At the breakfast, Dreamfit unveiled the winners of its Dreamcatcher Challenge, in which university students designed and developed custom-made, innovative solutions for meeting the ‘dreams’ of three individuals nominated by disability organisations.

Nine teams made up the challenge contenders, including engineering students from the University of Western Australia and occupational therapy and public relations students from Edith Cowan University.

For the competition, students were required to design innovative water sit-skis, technically advanced mouth-painting devices, and custom-built weightlifting equipment for two recipients with cerebral palsy and one with meningitis-induced quadriplegia.

Dreamfit’s Dreamcatcher Challenge was supported by a number of companies within the resources sector with Hatch, Apache Energy and Wood Group among the corporate sponsors of the nine competing teams.

Peak business representative group the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA sponsored the Westcare breakfast.

Dreamfit founder and chief executive Darren Lomman said the Dreamcatcher Challenge was something that benefited not just the recipients of the designs, but the companies involved in sponsoring and mentoring the students designing and building the solutions.

Having been ‘homeless’ since 2007, Dreamfit moved into a 1,500 square metre warehouse last September.

There’s no doubting Mr Lomman’s enthusiasm for his role, and the goals of his organisation, but equally clear is the struggle for the funds needed to deliver outcomes.

A speedboat modified to accommodate wheelchair passengers sits in the middle of the working space, unable to be used because the first time it was on the water a plastic bag was sucked into the engine, melting it. The organisation doesn’t have enough sponsorship dollars to repair the damage.

Securing and maintaining a professional workshop full of equipment is equally challenging.

“We have grown overnight and so we don’t have the tooling required for the students [who work on the projects],” Mr Lomman said.

“Dreamfit started with a drill and a jigsaw I stole from my mother. They are not really industrial level. That is what we are using and we are looking at 150 engineering students getting involved in these projects.”

“We have got these professional engineers and these young, green engineers who are keen and passionate and want to do it, but they need that support and guidance. It is a good way for companies to give back and help disadvantaged communities with their skills and knowledge.”

 

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